Title IX, Day One: Americans push back on Biden admin's plan to overhaul rule

Parents, athletes, survivors, and university administrators weighed in with diverse opinions on due process, transgender athletes, and more.

Hearings will continue throughout the week as the Biden administration prepares for a possible attempt to overhaul the Trump administration's Title IX rule.

The first day of the Department of Education's Title IX hearings began with fireworks from both supporters and opponents of the Trump-era rule, which shored up due process protections for students as colleges investigate and adjudicate reports of sexual misconduct.

Students, parents, professors, administrators, and more weighing in on potential changes to the current policy, including the Biden administration's push to redefine "on the basis of sex" in the law to include gender identity, thus allowing biological men to compete in women's sports.

The Trump administration's legally-binding rule replaced an Obama-era letter that critics say led to "kangaroo courts" which ignored the due process rights of accused students. Secretary Cardona instated this week-long hearing session as a result of President Biden's March 8 Executive Order, which directed Cardona to conduct a full review of the Trump administration's Title IX rule. 

While several commenters, including a transgender 14 year old and several school administrators, argued to overturn the rule, others issued an impassioned defense. The main highlights from supporters of the rule are as follows:

- Selina Soule, one of the three plaintiffs suing the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, told the Department how she missed out on major opportunities as a track athlete because she was forced to compete against biological men. Soule said her "chances of being first, of being the best, were shattered" by a policy that forced her to compete against people who are stronger and faster because of a biological advantage, not because of talent or hard work. She called the experience "frustrating, heartbreaking, and demoralizing," saying, "We elite female athletes don't give up on the normal high school experience just for participation trophies. We race to win." 

- A woman identified only as Karen shared that her son was the victim of a sexual assault 7 years ago, when he was "blacked out and unable to consent." She says the unnamed college mishandled the case: Despite photos and eyewitness accounts, "the university never investigated the claim, and he was the student expelled." Meanwhile, she said, the female student "graduated with no repercussions." Karen advised the department, "We don't need more rules and regulations; just enforce the ones you have."

- Lauren Adams, legal director at the Women's Liberation Front, shared her unapologetic support for the Trump Title IX rule. Describing the group as a "nonpartisan radical feminist" organization, she argued that separating athletes by gender identity made no more sense than separating them by sexual orientation. She said that allowing transgender athletes to compete in women's sports "denies the reality of differences when they exist and are relevant between the sexes. "We cannot allow the rights of women and girls to be dictated by threats," Adams said, "otherwise, we will risk turning back the clock of 50 years of educational advancements for women and girls."

- David Porter, a former faculty member at Berea College, called himself a "professor in exile" after being forced out of a tenured position on the basis of a Title IX accusation he says is unfounded. 

- Christina Mitchell, a mom of three student-athletes in Connecticut, decried the current transgender athlete policy for making sports unfair to kids who want to compete. 

- A graduate student at Georgetown University and a former collegiate runner called the trans athletes controversy "a bipartisan issue that boils down to biology. She said, "women deserve a fair chance...being an NCAA women's athlete is a privilege, not a right."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito