Last June, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Title IX, 42 female athletes and advocates took to the stage to rally for “Our Bodies, Our Sports.” Led by Independent Women’s Forum, the rally included 17 other organizations – along with families and supporters – from across the political spectrum for what we believed was a monumental moment.

Now, as we approach the 51st anniversary of Title IX – a landmark law that guarantees equal athletic opportunities for women –  our fight to save women’s sports has never been more vital. Which is why I am so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with so many brave women in this battle — we are a team, and this team is being heard.

Meanwhile, politicians and radical gender ideologues are actively working to undermine Title IX by allowing females to be displaced by males who identify as women. In doing so, they are sending a clear message to all girls and women that says we don’t matter.

A message that says our ability to give consent in areas of undressing is irrelevant because being “kind and inclusive” is more important. A message that says we are not worthy of recognition. A message that we simply exist to validate the feelings and the identities of males. A message that if we don’t do so with a smile on our face, then we’re hateful bigots. 

The effects of Title IX are undeniable. While the protections of Title IX extend across many aspects of schools and universities, the federal civil rights law is most commonly recognized for ensuring equal opportunity amongst the two sexes in sports. 

Merely 51 years ago, my grandmother didn’t have the same options that I had on the playing field. Without the women’s sporting category, I would not have been afforded the chance to swim at the University of Kentucky on a full scholarship. I would not be a Southeastern Conference record holder. I would not be a 12x All-American. I would not have developed lifelong friendships with my teammates. I would not have the leadership skills and confidence that I have now. Don’t forget, men received all of these things without a change in the law.  

In my grandmother’s same lifetime, she has seen first-hand the benefits of Title IX implementation – just as she is now witnessing those benefits being taken away. She finally saw women get the rightful recognition they deserved, become empowered, and chase their dreams. Now our own administrators and officials are helping to erode these opportunities for women and girls nationwide. 

The Biden administration’s proposed new athletics rule would require schools to allow trans athletes to compete on teams that align with their gender identity, except where it would undermine “fairness in competition” or safety. The new policy doesn’t define fairness, it doesn’t define transgender, it doesn’t define a “gender identity,” and it doesn’t define women.

How can we defend what we cannot define? This proposed rule places the burden of Title IX squarely on the shoulders of women. It says that men must be included wherever they want to compete, adding that sex-based criteria may not be considered if it proves harmful (even emotionally) to men. But what about the harm amending Title IX would do to women?

The same elected bureaucrats and officials who once took pride in celebrating women by implementing Title IX are the same people now working to undermine these benefits in the name of “inclusion.” The irony should be painfully obvious to anyone with a brain (or heart). 

But this is bigger than just sports and athletics. We, as women, are being silenced. Our universities and institutions are gaslighting and emotionally blackmailing us into making us feel like we are in the wrong. They want us to feel guilty for demanding fairness. There are so many tears and so many frustrated women in sports right now. Too many are not visible. We know rules like these aren’t fair; it really only takes common sense to recognize it. 

Women are brave people, but it shouldn’t take bravery to demand equal treatment. And if our leaders cannot deliver fairness to sports and athletics, then we need different leaders. Our next generation of girls deserves to see themselves as champions – not “oppressors” – and we all deserve a clear voice in this debate.

There is a place for everyone to compete, but women should not have to compromise themselves for these places to be made. Such an approach is regressive and deeply misogynistic. It takes us back 51 years. How many girls have to be hurt, loose out on opportunities or feel exploited in a locker room before the people in power realize this? Leave Title IX alone.