Navigating the transgender issues

Published on July 18th, 2022

The United States is navigating the transgender issues with a ruling by a federal judge temporarily blocking President Biden’s administration directives allowing transgender workers and students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

Reuters reports how Judge Charles Atchley Jr. of the Eastern District of Tennessee ruled on July 16, 2022 that the administration’s directives would make it impossible for some states to enforce their own laws on transgender athletes’ participation in girls’ sports and access to bathrooms.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, one of the plaintiffs, said in a written statement that Atchley’s order “is a major victory for women’s sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms.”

The coalition of Republican states argued the Biden administration directives improperly expanded on a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended anti-discrimination protections to transgender workers.

The top court said employers cannot terminate workers because of their gender identity or sexuality, but the justices expressly declined to decide if the ruling applied to sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms.

The judge’s ruling means competitors like student-athlete Lia Thomas (above), a transgender swimmer who competes in women’s races, could face increased barriers to entry.

Thomas won the 500 yards freestyle race at the NCAA Swimming Championships in March, making history as the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title. This vaulted Thomas into the center of the debate of transgender participation in women’s sport.

Thomas, who previously competed for the men’s team before undergoing a medical transition, is one of the University of Pennsylvania’s nominees for the NCAA’s 2022 Woman of the Year Award.

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