At a recent House Oversight Subcommittee on Health hearing, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representing New York, raised concerns about the potential implications of excluding transgender individuals from women’s sports. During the session, which included testimony from celebrated NCAA swimmer and advocate for women’s sports, Riley Gaines, Ocasio-Cortez expressed her apprehensions about the broader impact of such policies.
The Congresswoman argued that legislation aimed at restricting transgender participation in women’s sports could lead to invasive measures against young women. She suggested that such laws might result in mandatory genital examinations for underage females, particularly in cases where their gender is questioned. Ocasio-Cortez highlighted the privacy and biological concerns these measures could impose on all women, transgender or cisgender.
This discussion emerges in a context where, nearly a year prior, the Ohio state Senate had debated a similar issue. The Senate had initially considered a provision in a state House bill that would require “internal and external” exams to verify a student-athlete’s gender. However, this proposal was later replaced with a requirement for presenting an original birth certificate in instances where an athlete’s gender is disputed. State Senate President Matt Huffman had remarked on the inappropriateness of the genital examination clause.
The hearing also featured a notable exchange between Gaines and another “Squad” member, Congresswoman Summer Lee from Pennsylvania. Lee had labeled the testimonies advocating for the restriction of women’s sports to biological women as “transphobic.” In response, Gaines defended her stance, emphasizing the importance of safety and fairness in sports. She argued that while inclusivity is vital, it should not compromise the integrity and safety of women’s sports. Gaines concluded her remarks by suggesting that if her testimony was viewed as transphobic, then Lee’s comments could be interpreted as misogynistic, underscoring the complexity and sensitivity of the issue.