Biden Will Delay Updating Trans Student Athlete Rules Because It’s Too Controversial

The Biden administration will not release updated Title IX regulations on transgender student athletes until after the election, according to multiple anonymous sources, because the issue is now considered too controversial.

Since 2021, Biden has promised to update Title IX anti-discrimination regulations on several fronts, including how universities handle cases of sexual assault. In April last year, the administration unveiled a separate proposal that would ban blanket prohibitions on trans student-athletes, but still allow sport-by-sport rules blocking trans athletes “to ensure fairness in competition.” (Despite conservative assertions and legislation to the contrary, medical science does not indicate trans women have innate advantages over cis women in sports.)

None of those changes have yet been finalized. While some of the new rules may be finalized “in coming weeks,” two sources told The Washington Post on Thursday that the new rules for trans athletes will likely be held up until after the general election on November 5. After it’s finalized, the rule will still need to pass through the Office of Management and Budget, which has up to 90 days to review any new regulations.

According to one source who is “familiar with the administration’s thinking,” Biden’s inner circle “made the political decision to not move on the athletics [rules change] pre-election” because “[i]t seems to be too much of a hot topic,” the Post reported. Another anonymous source said they had received the same message from the administration.

An official at the Department of Education did not confirm or deny whether the delay was political in nature, but pointed to the hundreds of thousands of public comments the department has received about the proposal as an explanation. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring all students are guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex,” the official told the Post.

Even with the crush of public comments, the Biden administration’s years-long delays in pushing through its Title IX proposals have even attracted public concern from Democratic legislators. Originally intended to be finalized in May 2023, the administration punted the deadline to October last year, then March, as The Hill noted.

Biden’s trans athlete proposal itself has been largely unappealing to LGBTQ+ lawmakers and advocates alike. Fourteen LGBTQ+ legislators signed an open letter to Biden last April following the release of the draft policy, criticizing the president for “provid[ing] those who seek to deny us our rights a roadmap for how to do so.” Biden has often addressed trans youth in speeches by claiming to “have your back[s],” backing that up with small wins like funding sex education for trans boys. But movement leaders have increasingly questioned his willingness to make good on that rhetoric more broadly. Younger voters have also signaled that Biden must do more to earn their votes, particularly regarding calls for a ceasefire in Gaza; since October, protestors have interrupted speeches by both the president and First Lady to condemn the administration’s financial and political support for Israel.

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