White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended President Biden’s executive order that called on schools across the country to permit students to participate in sports under their chosen gender identity.
When asked by a reporter Tuesday, what Biden’s message was to school officials tackling the disputes regarding transgender and cisgender girls competing together, particularly for college scholarships, Psaki said, “the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights.
“And that’s why he signed that executive order,” she said. “And in terms of the determinations by universities and colleges, I would certainly defer to them.”
The executive order, signed the day after Biden entered office on Jan. 21, resurfaced following tough questioning of Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., during his confirmation hearing last week.
Paul claimed that allowing transgender girls — individuals who were born male but identify as female — to participate in women’s sports “would completely destroy girls’ athletics” by depriving female athletes the opportunity to fairly compete and obtain scholarships.
“I think it’s the legal responsibility for schools to provide opportunities for students to participate in activities and this includes students who are transgender,” Cardona told Paul during his hearing.
Several lawsuits across the nation have emerged after high school girls have challenged policies that allow transgender females to compete in their field – noting the physical advantages that transgender females have over cisgender females, girls who are born and identify as female.
In his executive order, Biden said, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
But the administration has not given any direction as to how public schools should handle tough questions surrounding what is considered fair for high school athletes – something that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has voiced frustration over.
“Across the sporting world, the game is being rigged against women and in favor of biological men,” the South Carolina Republican, wrote for the National Review Monday. “President Biden is the latest man to do the rigging, which is strange coming from someone billed as a defender of women.”
“Generations of women fought hard to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters had a level playing field, because girls deserve the same chance as boys to play sports,” she said. Adding that “transgender kids deserve support and respect,” but “the fact remains, however, that biological boys and girls are built differently” and “the best male athletes have a natural advantage over the best female athletes.”
Cardona acknowledged the “challenge” surrounding this topic during his confirmation hearing, and told senators that he “looked forward” to working with them on addressing this sensitive subject.
Ronn Blitzer and Greg Norman contributed to this report.