AMARILLO, Texas – In a victory for female athletes and health care providers, a federal district court rejected the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of the word “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in federal statutes.
In Neese v. Becerra, two Texas-based physicians are challenging the administration’s mandate in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that forces health care professionals to perform harmful medical procedures that seek to alter a patient’s biological sex even if the procedure violates the doctor’s medical judgment or religious beliefs. That mandate depends on Title IX, a federal statute that the administration is also attempting to interpret to require women to compete against men on women’s sports teams. In its ruling Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division, determined that “because Title IX does not protect ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ status, neither does Section 1557.” Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief in August arguing for the court to protect female athletes by striking down the administration’s rewriting of federal law, which the court did in its ruling.
“Female athletes deserve to compete on a fair and level playing field with other women, and federal law protects equal opportunity for women to excel in sports,” said ADF Legal Counsel Rachel Csutoros. “We’re pleased the court ruled to not only protect female athletes, but also doctors who should never be forced to perform controversial and medically dangerous procedures that violate their conscience and religious beliefs. In its opinion, the court rightly stopped the Biden administration’s gross overreach of its authority and political agenda.”
“Title IX’s protections center on differences between the two biological sexes—not SOGI status,” the court wrote in its opinion. “Title IX expressly allows sex distinctions and sometimes even requires them to promote equal opportunity… Defendants’ theory actively ‘undermine[s] one of [Title IX’s] major achievements, giving young women an equal opportunity to participate in sports.”
The court further wrote, “the Defendants’ reinterpretation of Title IX through the Notification imperils the very opportunities for women Title IX was designed to promote and protect—categorically forcing biological women to compete against biological men.”
ADF attorneys filed the brief on behalf of Maddie Dichiara, who is on a full-tuition scholarship to play soccer at the University of Houston, Chelsea Mitchell, an All-American long jumper who won numerous state championships in sprinting and jumping events, and Madison Kenyon, a track and cross-country athlete at Idaho State University.
The brief explains how U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra “simply takes women’s teams for granted without stopping to consider the pivotal role that biology-based classifications have played in promoting equal opportunities. His interpretation has dire ramifications for female athletes too, threatening to end women’s sports. Yet to give women ‘real opportunities,’ rather than participation trophies, schools must offer women-only teams. Title IX accomplishes this by focusing on biology, and neither the statute’s text nor purpose support the Secretary’s interpretation.”
- Pronunciation guide: (Csutoros (Suh-TOR’-is)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.