Skip to main content

Press releases Special Procedures

United States: Proposed Title IX changes will impact rights of women and girls in sports and education says UN expert

27 December 2023

GENEVA (27 December 2023) – Proposed rule changes to Title IX would violate the rights to equality and non-discrimination of student-athletes that are biological women and girls and contravene the United States’ obligations under international human rights law, a UN expert warned today.

In 1972, the U.S. Congress passed landmark legislation, known as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), to eradicate sex discrimination against women in education and ensure that girls could enjoy the same educational opportunities as their male counterparts.

On 6 April 2023, the U.S. Department of Education issued separate proposed changes to its Title IX Regulations on Students’ Eligibility for Athletic Teams, with the stated aim of clarifying that sex-based criteria determining athletic eligibility for each sport, level of competition and grade or education level must be substantially related to the achievement of an important educational objective and minimise harm to students whose opportunity to compete on a team aligned with their gender identity would otherwise be limited or denied.

“I share the concern expressed by women and girl athletes and women sports associations, as well as women and girls on sports scholarships, that the proposed Title IX rule changes would have detrimental effects on the participation of biological women and girls in sports, including by denying them the opportunity to compete fairly, resulting in the loss of athletic and scholarship opportunities,” said Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls.

The proposed change to Title IX would also lead to the removal of intimate spaces such as separate shower facilities and locker rooms for males and females.

“More importantly, it would lead to the loss of privacy, an increased risk of physical injury, heightened exposure to sexual harassment and voyeurism, as well as a more frequent and accumulated psychological distress due to the loss of privacy and fair and equal sporting and academic opportunities,” Alsalem said.

"If the proposed changes are adopted, they would contravene the United States’ international human rights obligations and commitments concerning the prevention of all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls on the basis of sex,” the expert added.

She noted that dropping the proposed changes would not impair the ability of any persons, including transgender women and girls, to exercise their right to participate in sports.

“Applying non-invasive means of confirming the sex of the student and the establishment of open categories, would maintain fairness in sports for female athletes while broadening opportunities for participation by all, irrespective of gender identity, in line with the course of actions taken by several sports associations,” Alsalem said.

“Barring rare exceptions, sport has globally been separated into male and female categories because of male performance advantage throughout the life cycle,” she said.

The expert has been in contact with the Government of the United States of America about these concerns.


Reem Alsalem is the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequencesby the UN Human Rights Council in July 2021, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. She is an independent consultant on gender issues, the rights of refugees and migrants, transitional justice and humanitarian response. She holds a Masters in International Relations from the American University in Cairo, Egypt (2001) and a Masters in Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2003).

The experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent expert in the UN human rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures expert work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests, please contact

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent expert, please contact Dharisha Indraguptha (

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights expert on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

Concerned about the world we live in?
Then stand up for someone's rights today.
#Standup4humanrights and visit the website at