If Biden demolishes Title IX, Kansas will sue faster than a man can run
Radicals in the Biden administration have declared war on reality.
It’s a war they can’t win, but the damage they inflict will last for generations. I’m specifically referring to the damage done to girls’ and women’s athletics.
In its latest attack, the Department of Education has proposed a rule that ties Title IX funding to opening girls’ sports to participation by biological males. Ultimately, educational institutions will face a dilemma: Either jeopardize the fairness of girls’ athletic events by allowing biological males to compete, or lose Title IX funding.
In order to receive federal financial assistance, schools and colleges will likely have to allow biological male athletes who “identify” as female to compete with girls. Across-the-board rules that protect all girls’ athletics against the unfairness of allowing biological males to compete in girls’ events are prohibited.
Regardless of what one believes about gender identity, biology is what matters in the world of athletics. Simply put, those with XY chromosomes are born with certain physical advantages. Boys are bigger, stronger and faster. They have better lung capacity, greater bone density, and more muscle mass than girls of the same age.
That’s the science, and it is also common sense by the shared experience of millions of Americans who have participated in athletic competitions. But the radical left no longer wants to believe “the science” when the science doesn’t support their agenda. Athletic records provide abundant proof.
Take distance running, for example. Since England’s Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute-mile barrier in 1954, 586 American men have run sub-4-minute miles. That includes Kansas’ own Jim Ryun, who in 1964 became the first high schooler to break the 4-minute barrier, and who even today holds the world record for the fastest mile ever run by a person 19 and under.
To date, no woman has ever run a 4-minute mile. Not one. The closest, the world record holder, is Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sirfan Hassan, who ran a 4:12.33 mile in 2020.
Back in 2012, a slightly saner time, a reporter for The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer, plotted lines on a graph comparing the world record times in short-, middle- and long-distance running and swimming. The data showed that women’s world record performances hovered around 90% of men’s. (Today, Mr. Meyer would likely be locked in a closet, shouted down on college campuses, fired, and canceled from public life for writing such a thing. But back in the halcyon days of 2012, common sense remained somewhat common.)
While the halls of fame and athletic associations that maintain athletic records carefully track the rare times a man runs a sub-4-minute mile, for women, they track the rare occasions when a woman runs a sub-4:30 mile.
These disparities are evident across every athletic event in which both men and women compete. Take rowing, in which I competed at the collegiate level. The world record time in the men’s single scull 2,000-meter race is 6:30.74, set by New Zealand’s Robbie Manson in 2017.
In comparison, the women’s world record in the same event is 7:07.71, set by Bulgaria’s Rumyana Neykova in 2002. Ask anyone who’s competed in rowing at a high level; it would be obviously unfair to let biological males compete on women’s teams or in women’s events.
In all athletic endeavors, men have significant advantages that are gained principally during puberty. And scientific research clearly shows that hormone treatments cannot erase the longer limbs, greater bone density, and muscular advantages that men enjoy.
Allowing biological males to use those advantages and dominate women they compete with doesn’t just knock women off the award podium. It can also mean the difference between making the team at all or getting a scholarship that makes college affordable. At any level of competition, it denies girls and women the opportunity to train hard and see that training pays off in the form of winning a fair competition.
As the father of five girls, all of whom are active athletes, I am particularly concerned about the destruction of these opportunities. One of my daughters, who is 17, is running the mile fast enough to win a scholarship that will likely pay for her college education. If those scholarships were open to biological male runners, she would almost certainly lose that scholarship.
We have spent over 50 years building women’s athletics into the vibrant and successful arena that it is today. Title IX, enacted by Congress in 1972, was an important step in making those improvements. The first women’s intercollegiate championships — in gymnastics and track and field — didn’t occur until 1969. The NCAA didn’t host women’s championships until 1972. Women weren’t allowed to compete officially in the Boston Marathon until 1972.
So much has changed for the better since then. Hundreds of thousands of women have earned college athletic scholarships. Some have gone on to multimillion-dollar contracts for coaching and for professional play. And at any level, girls and women have the ability to train and win on a level playing field in their sport of choice.
The irony is that these incredible leaps in women’s athletics are due in part to the opportunities provided by Title IX — the same Title IX that the Biden administration wants to use to destroy women’s sports and, therefore, women’s opportunities.
The Kansas Legislature recently enacted a law that prohibits biological males from competing against biological females in all school sports. The Biden administration is about to run into hard reality if it attempts to revoke Title IX funding from Sunflower State schools.
As Kansas attorney general, I have formally submitted comments laying out the legal infirmities of the Biden administration’s position. If the administration persists, I will defend the Kansas law and take the Biden administration to court in less time than it takes a man dressed as a woman to run a mile.
We will win because history, science, law and common sense are on our side.
• Kris Kobach is the attorney general of Kansas.