Lame duck Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has introduced a bill that would bar men from competing in women's athletics.
"I think it's wonderful that she's willing to have one of her last bills be something to protect and represent women," says Mary Beth Waddell, senior legislative assistant at Family Research Council (FRC). "To see it from the left side of the aisle is great, and this actually is an issue that has a lot of bipartisan support, because you have organizations like the Women's Liberation Front that support biological understandings of men and women."
People and organizations pushing for men in women's sports feel the bill and effort is disrespectful to men who identify as female. Still, people and organizations on the other side of the coin say that it's disrespectful to biological females who may now be at a disadvantage by having to compete against biological males.
"The whole point of Title IX is to ensure that women have equal access to sports as men," says Waddell. "That can lead to scholarships and being able to go to a better college than they may actually be able to afford because of those scholarships and that leads to job opportunities and things like that."
According to Waddell, it's not just about playing a game. "It is what the fairness of playing that game allows for women," she says.
The bill from Gabbard is the "Protect Women's Sports Act." Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) partnered with Gabbard on the bill.
"Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting it, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes," Rep. Gabbard said in a statement published on her website. "Our legislation protects Title IX's original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex."
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) introduced a similar measure in September (S.4649). That bill, known as "the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act," has not been taken up for a vote. Neither has a House version (H.R.5603), which was introduced in January.