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Bills Targeting Transgender, Intersex Athletes Purport To Maintain 'Fairness' In Women's Sports

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Renée Richards became the first openly trans athlete to compete at a professional level in 1977, after a win at the New York Supreme Court allowed her to compete against other female athletes.

But in the decades since, transgender athletes and allies have faced considerable pushback on efforts to transform the sex-segregated nature of sports.

Bills have been filed in more than 20 state legislatures — including Texas' — that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools, despite a lack of evidence that their participation has been problematic.

Arguments for not allowing trans and intersex athletes to perform alongside athletes of a similar gender identity are often framed as a fairness issue, while trans-rights advocates say these policies are discriminatory and based on a tired understanding of sex and gender.

How does the issue affect competition at professional, collegiate and K-12 levels? What regulatory approaches have been taken by international and national sports governing bodies?

Why are experts conflicted about who should compete in women’s sports? Do transgender athletes have an unfair advantage? What does the science say?

Are opposing “fairness” versus “inclusion” positions irreconcilable, or is there room for compromise? What are the biggest regulatory challenges?

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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, March 9.