US President Joe Biden has thrown hundreds of thousands of college sports scholarships reserved for women open to competition from male-bodied transgender athletes.
An executive order signed by the president on Thursday ordered educational institutions to allow students access to toilets, changing rooms and sports teams based on their self-declared gender identity rather than their biological sex.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden wrote in his order.
The order cited a US Supreme Court ruling last year that gender identity should be treated as equivalent to biological sex when applied to anti-discrimination law.
Feminists and women journalists were quick to point out that would mean biologically-male students could compete against girls for athletic scholarships to colleges, of which almost six in ten are already awarded to male athletes. Some challenged the label of "trans-exclusionary radical feminist" (TERF) applied to them by trans rights activists.
— Abigail Shrier (@AbigailShrier) January 21, 2021
— libby emmons (@libbyemmons) January 21, 2021
— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) January 21, 2021
— Sonia Poulton (@SoniaPoulton) January 21, 2021
— Lou (@LoUFO7) January 21, 2021
Writing for the conservative feminist Independent Women's Forum website, Independent Women's Law Center director Jennifer Braceras said Biden had "effectively ordered women’s sports and athletic scholarships to go co-ed."
"What is to stop a male student, armed with the new order, from claiming the right to try for a spot on a women’s team (and, potentially, an athletic scholarship)?" Braceras asked. "Absolutely nothing."
And Britain's LGB Alliance, which opposes many aspects of trans rights activism — including branding gay and lesbian people "gender fetishists" if they decline to sleep with transgender people of the opposite physical sex — pledged support for those in the US ready to fight the order.
— LGB Alliance (@ALLIANCELGB) January 21, 2021
Meanwhile, online encyclopedia Wikipedia took down two pages on timelines of women's sport over alleged copyright issues.
— Chad Felix Greene (@chadfelixg) January 21, 2021
Some 635,000 athletic scholarships to US colleges, worth a combined total of $4.23 billion, were awarded in the 2019-2020 academic year. More than 367,000 went to men and 267,000 to women — meaning 58 per cent of such college places already go to men. Access to those funded places is based on students' performance at school.
Canadian trans woman Rachel McKinnon, now known as Veronica Ivy, was accused of taking unfair advantage of her male physiology to win several competitive cycling events in 2018 and 2019.
— Lance Hawkes (@lhawkes) May 8, 2019
Some feminists point out that policies allowing men to quickly claim transgender women status and access to women-only spaces — including prisons — on the basis of self-identification alone have led to several documented sexual assaults. In the UK last week, trans woman Michelle Winter was jailed for 15 years for the rape of a woman — a crime defined in English law as violating another's body with one's penis.