HRC responded to the Trump-Pence administration’s latest actions attacking transgender athletes. In a ruling issued May 15, 2020, but made public today, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ruled, in conflict with previous wide-spread interpretation of the law, that a Connecticut policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in sports that align with their gender identity violates Title IX. It had previously been the position of OCR that transgender students were entitled to the full protections offered by Title IX, including participation in sports consistent with a student’s gender identity. This is the first public incidence of the Department of Education claiming that transgender inclusion violates Title IX. 

“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest decision to attack transgender athletes is unacceptable and offensive,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Transgender athletes have every right to play sports and participate in athletic activities in accordance with their gender identity. Any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to discriminate. Amid a global pandemic — which is already disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ community — the Trump administration continues to work overtime to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people. Shame on Trump and his administration. We will fight this policy and fight to elect a pro-equality President who represents all of us.”

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights determined that the Connecticut policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports that align with their gender identity violates Title IX, federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded educational programs and activities, including sports. OCR misgenders the transgender athletes throughout its ruling, and this ruling is one of several steps to take administrative action against the athletic association and schools involved, including that OCR may seek to withhold federal funding from the athletic association and schools over the policy. 

Earlier this year amid a global pandemic, Idaho Governor Brad Little prioritized and signed two discriminatory anti-transgender laws, commonly referred to as HB 500 and HB 509. HB 500 will bar transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

HRC is grateful to the leadership of groups and advocates on the ground that have been fighting for LGBTQ-inclusive policies around the country, including the ACLU, which is representing trans athletes in Connecticut and Idaho.


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