Thursday, November 26, 2020

Betsy DeVos Attacks Trans Athletes Again


So much for “live free or die.” In a jarring attack on trans student-athletes, the Department of Education’s Betsy DeVos has forced Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire to rescind its trans-inclusive policies for its athletic programs. DeVos claims that Franklin Pierce’s guidelines violate Title IX, which is meant to protect women in spaces that receive public funding. In the eyes of the Trump administration, trans women are not regarded as women at all.

The Title IX complaint against Franklin Pierce was made by the organization Concerned Women for America, described by Karleigh Webb in Outsports as “a Washington, D.C.-based Christian, anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQ organization.” It filed this complaint in 2019, after Franklin Pierce runner Cecé Telfer, a trans woman, won the NCAA Division II 400-meter hurdles. Telfer became the first transgender student athlete to break the tape at an individual track and field NCAA championship, which is bizarre if trans women are actually running roughshod over women’s sports as CWA argues. The DeVos threat, of course, is that for a violation of Title IX, federal funds could be withheld. It’s using Title IX—and sports—as a cudgel to attack schools with trans-inclusive policies.

Franklin Pierce University, in defense of caving to DeVos and the Concerned Women of America, released the following statement:

Franklin Pierce University is committed to an inclusive environment for all of its students. We regret that we were required to rescind the Transgender Participation and Inclusion Policy we adopted and put forward based on the NCAA’s model, but have made this move to comply with a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. While we disagree with the position that the federal administration has taken with respect to trans-inclusive athletics participation, the Office for Civil Rights confirmed in its resolution letter (sent to us on October 16, 2020) that the provision within our policy were [sic] consistent with the NCAA’s Policy of Transgender Student-Athlete Participation, which was promulgated in 2011. We will continue to work with the Northeast-10 Conference and the NCAA on this important issue.

The CWA (and, honestly, the Communication Workers of America should sue them for stealing their initials) has worked in conjunction with DeVos to go after other states like Connecticut that have trans-inclusive athletic policies. It’s a methodical approach aimed at forcing trans people not only off the field of play but also into a silenced, marginalized space.

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