Since taking office in January 2021, the Biden administration has been systematically taking a hacksaw to Title IX, with disastrous results for women and girls.
Title IX turns 50 this year. By Title IX, I am referring, of course, to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The language of Title IX itself is simple and straightforward:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
The purpose of this law was to remedy centuries of exclusion from, and discrimination against, women and girls in the educational arena in the United States. It has led to significant and material
in the roles that women play in civil society today.
The Biden administration has been accomplishing its assault on Title IX by redefining the word sex to include the phrase “gender identity.” This might seem innocuous. It might appear on its face that the redefinition of sex to include “gender identity” is meant to protect a small community of marginalized people called “transgender.”
It isn’t. Instead, the administration is doing the bidding of a vicious
whose aim is to obliterate the material reality of biological sex. The truth is that every single human being on the planet is either female or male — the word “transgender” is simply being used throughout society to obscure this reality. I talk about all of this in my
, The Abolition of Sex: How the “Transgender” Agenda Harms Women and Girls.
I say all of this as a committed feminist and a lifelong Democrat. And I am not alone — there are countless rank-and-file Democrats all over the country who are furious with the administration, among others, for what it is doing here. Most people do not know this because most media outlets will not publish our voices or perspectives.
The administration’s insistence on redefining sex to include “gender identity” is particularly egregious when one considers the author of Title IX: Patsy Mink, a Japanese American woman in whose memory the law was renamed in 2002, one month after her death.
Mink had lived through the period when the U.S. was incarcerating Japanese Americans in internment camps solely on the basis of having Japanese ancestry. She was born Patsy Takemoto in 1927 on a sugar plantation in Hawaii to descendants of Japanese immigrants.
Mink graduated as valedictorian of her high school in 1944. She eventually studied at the University of Nebraska, where she worked to abolish what were, at the time, legal racial segregation policies. She eventually enrolled in the University of Chicago Law School, where she met John Mink, whom she married. They graduated law school in 1951, had a daughter in 1952, and returned to Hawaii.
Due to sexist laws that were in place in the early 1950s, she lost her Hawaiian territorial residency when she married and was denied the right to take the bar exam. She fought the law and won the right to take the exam and passed it. However, because she was married and had a child, no law firm would hire her. So she established her own law practice. She eventually won a seat on the Hawaiian territorial House of Representatives, becoming the first Japanese American woman to do so. Two years later, she became the first woman to serve in the territorial Senate. She spoke in favor of civil rights at the 1960 Democratic National Convention and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964. She served a total of 12 terms in Congress. While there, she introduced the first comprehensive initiatives under the Early Childhood Education Act and worked on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
And finally, in 1972, she co-authored the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act. Title IX was eventually renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act following Mink’s death in 2002. So today, although we refer to the law as Title IX, which is accurate, the law is technically called the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in her memory.
But the struggles Mink endured as a woman of color, for which she was honored not too long ago, are now being spit upon by an administration that wants to reduce her sex to a vague and meaningless catchall and gut the protections for her sex that she fought to secure.
On his first day in office, for example, President Joe Biden signed Executive
13988 on “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” Many of us, myself included, naively assumed that this would mean that, within 100 days, federal agencies would put forth proposed rules for notice and public comment, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. None of that has happened. Instead, the administration has been methodically, and with no notice or opportunity for public comment, obliterating sex as a meaningful category throughout federal administrative law, including the Title IX enforcement regulations, which permit sex-specific sports and spaces under certain conditions.
Shortly after Biden signed his executive order, the Justice Department
in March 2021 that Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex would be interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” That signaled the death of women’s and girls’ sports at all federally funded institutions.
Then, on June 16, 2021, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a
of Interpretation explaining that it would henceforth enforce Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or “gender identity” as well.
All of these memos and orders are being challenged in the
of Tennessee et al. v. United States Department of Education, et al., in which 21 states have sued the administration, alleging various violations of state and federal law. The U.S.
of Women’s Declaration International, of which I serve as president, has filed an amicus
in that case, alleging that in addition to all the other claims, the administration’s actions violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by constituting unlawful sex discrimination.
Several U.S. organizations, including WDI USA, participate in a coalition whose aim is to protect women’s and girls’ sports under Title IX. Our coalition was advised that the Department of Education finally intended to announce rule-making in April 2022. It still has not done so. In the meantime, several participant organizations have met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to explain our
. If the department does announce a public rule-making process, we will be ready. If it doesn’t, Title IX’s ability to protect women and girls in sports and in the educational arena generally might remain intact.
In the meantime, the Biden administration continues to lie to the people and insult the pioneering woman of color who authored Title IX. Women and girls, like men and boys, need to experience the joys and benefits of giving all you’ve got for your team and winning in fair competition. When Title IX turns 50 on June 23, my hope is that it will remain intact and continue to advance the liberation of women and girls as a sex class for centuries to come.
Kara Dansky is a public speaker, writer, and consultant who is committed to protecting the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls on the basis of sex in law and throughout society and the author of The Abolition of Sex: How the “Transgender” Agenda Harms Women and Girls. She serves as president of the U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International.