On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Section 1 one of the order lays out the administration’s stance on policy:
Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports. Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Many conservatives criticized the president’s policy, claiming that Biden’s order diminishes girls’ sports by allowing transgender girls to compete alongside cisgender girls. In an article for the National Review titled “We Must Protect Women’s Sports”, former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley writes:
In one of his first acts as president, he (President Biden) signed an executive order paving the way for a federal mandate that all schools receiving federal funding let biological men play on women’s sports teams. The order was framed as a matter of transgender rights. But really, it was an attack on women’s rights.
On February 9, during a White House press briefing, Rachel Sutherland, a reporter from Fox News Radio, questioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki on the president’s stance on transgender student-athletes.
“My question is, does the President have a message for local school officials on dealing with these kind of disputes that are already starting to arise between, you know, trans girls who are competing and cis girls, and a level playing field? Because particularly in high school sports, when it leads to college scholarships, is there any kind of messaging or clarification that the White House wants to give on the executive order?”
Without missing a beat, Psaki responded:
“I would just say that the President’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order.
And in terms of the determinations by universities and colleges, I’d certainly defer to them.”
The entire exchange between Psaki and Sutherland can be watched below.
"The president's belief is that trans rights are human rights" — Jen Psaki pic.twitter.com/8VOMcN4XoR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
In a fact check article on the issue, USA Today explained the executive order:
The executive order does not tie an education institution’s federal funding to allowing biological male athletes access to women’s sports teams and scholarships, the White House said in a statement issued to USA TODAY.
The order mandates that all students, including transgender students, be able to learn without facing sex discrimination, and as part of that, transgender women should compete on female teams, according to the statement.
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