U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, who’s trying to keep her seat in a special election this year, is polishing her right-wing credentials by introducing an anti-transgender bill.
Loeffler, joined by four other ultraconservative Republicans, Tuesday introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which would make it a violation of U.S. law for any school that receives federal education funds to allow a trans girl or woman — or, as Loeffler’s press release puts it, “a biological male” — to participate in women’s sports.
Specifically, Loeffler’s bill would hold the school in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a law banning sex discrimination in any education program, including sports, that receives federal funds. Schools that violate Title IX are in danger of losing those funds.
Right now the Department of Education is considering stripping federal funds from several Connecticut school districts that let trans girls participate in girls’ sports. The families of three cisgender female athletes have sued the districts over the issue, and they argue that trans girls’ participation is indeed a violation of Title IX. The Department of Justice has sided with the families by filing a legal brief called a “statement of interest” in the case. Meanwhile, a federal judge has blocked the enforcement of an Idaho law that bars trans girls from competing with cis girls, but that order is being appealed.
Loeffler has made it clear that she supports trans exclusion. “Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” she said in the press release. “As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities. This commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”
“Men and women are biologically different,” added Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a cosponsor. “That’s just a scientific fact. For the safety of female athletes and for the integrity of women’s sports, we must honor those differences on a fair field of competition.” Other lead cosponsors are Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
That’s their way of saying that people who were assigned male at birth have an inherent advantage over those always recognized as female. However, many scientists and activists dispute this, saying there are multiple factors that give any athlete advantage over others, such as their body size or the training they’ve received.
“The truth is, transgender women and girls have been competing in sports at all levels for years, and there is no research supporting the claim that they maintain a competitive advantage,” Shayna Medley and Galen Sherwin wrote in an American Civil Liberties Union blog post last year. “As [Connecticut trans athlete Andraya Yearwood] rightfully pointed out, all athletes, cis and trans, compete with different advantages, but only some are questioned: ‘One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better. One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.’”
Loeffler, a business executive and political newcomer, was appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the Senate seat vacated by Johnny Isakson, who retired in December due to health problems. But she will have to defend the seat in a special election that will take place November 3, the same day as the general election. Her race, however, will pit candidates of all parties against each other.
Among Republicans, Loeffler’s chief challenger is U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who infamously tweeted upon Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, “RIP to the more than 30 million innocent babies that have been murdered during the decades that Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended pro-abortion laws.” Not to be outdone, Loeffler has released a campaign ad bragging that she’s “more conservative than Attila the Hun,” the ancient warrior who attacked the Roman Empire and committed many atrocities.
Leading Democratic challengers include Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, a post once held by Martin Luther King Jr.; Matt Lieberman, an entrepreneur and son of former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; and former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver. In all, 21 candidates qualified for the ballot, including four independents, one Green Party member, and one Libertarian as well as Democrats and Republicans, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, there will be a runoff January 5. The winner will serve the last two years of Isakson’s term.
Loeffler, the wealthiest member of Congress, made headlines when it was reported in the spring that she and her husband sold millions of dollars worth of stock after she received a briefing about the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended up crashing the stock market. She was accused of violating a law forbidding legislators from profiting from information they receive in private briefings, but the Senate Ethics Committee dropped an investigation of her in June, saying there was no evidence of such violations.
She is co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, but she has received pushback from players and the league. The league issued a statement in support of diversity and inclusion after she objected to its plan to honor Black Lives Matter, and several Dream players have been seen wearing Warnock T-shirts.