Rand Paul was the picture of bitterness as he repeatedly pushed questions on transgender student athletes to Joe Biden’s education secretary nominee, Miguel Cardona.
This inclusive order seemed baffling to Rand, who was determined to press the matter during Cardona’s confirmation hearing in the Senate on Wednesday (3 February).
“If you’re confirmed, will you enforce that Office of Civil Rights opinion?” he asked the nominee.
“I understand that there are a lot of concerns about that,” Cardona replied neutrally. “If confirmed, it’s my responsibility and my privilege to make sure that we’re following civil rights of all students, and that includes activities that they may engage in high school or athletics.”
This wasn’t enough for the far-right senator, who demanded to know Cardona’s personal opinion on what he sees as “biological males” competing in girls’ sports.
“What do you think in general of boys running in girls’ track meets like they’ve been doing in Connecticut?” he asked.
Cardona, who began his career as a teacher and later a school principal, reiterated that it is “critically important” that schools respect the rights of all students – “including students who are transgender” – and that they are afforded the opportunities that every other child has.
Rand Paul persisted his line of questioning, with the exchange growing increasingly tense as he failed to get the answer he was searching for.
“Do you worry, having boys running in girls’ track meets?” he asked sardonically, repeating claims that cis female athletes would lose out of scholarships and be “pushed out” of sports.
Cardona remained measured in his response, replying correctly that it is the legal responsibility of schools to provide opportunities for trans students to participate.
“So you don’t have a problem then, boys running in the girls’ track meets, swimming meets, you name it, you’re OK then with boys competing with girls?” Rand pushed.
“Respectfully, senator, I think I answered the question,” Cardona said finally.
It’s been noted that athletes, male or female, transgender or cisgender, can have competitive advantages for many reasons besides hormones such as testosterone (usually cited as giving advantage to trans females), including body size, access to training, and more.
“LeBron James’s kids have access to the best coaches and the best facilities with the best equipment. They’re going to have an advantage over somebody,” Timothy Roberts, a paediatrician who has studied the effects of hormones on athletic performance, told NBC News.
“And all of those people are still in the same competition.”