NEW YORK (PIX11)– Title IX is celebrating its 50th year as vital law that provided equity between male and female athletes.

At a state department event Wednesday, First Lady Jill Biden discussed the landmark civil rights law.

“Title IX created space for girls and women to be more,” Dr. Biden said.

Passed in 1972, Title IX leveled the playing fields for millions of female athletes. The First Lady was joined by legendary tennis player and activist Billie Jean King.

“One of the most important legislation of the 21st century,” King said.

King, who was a college athlete before the law passed, said she was forced to work two jobs, while male athletes enjoyed full scholarships. In 2006, the U.S. Open Tennis Center in Queens was named after King.

“We can never understand inclusion until we’ve been excluded,” King said.

The 37-word provision was originally tucked into the 1972 Higher Education Bill. Since then, the law was invoked when the Obama Administration advised that transgender people should be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice in schools.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Women’s soccer team also scored a huge legal victory under Title IX, when they were awarded equal pay as their male counterparts. 

Over the past five decades, Title IX has evolved as it continues to transform lives.

“This work matters,” Dr. Biden said.

There are two types of Title IX complaints that can be filed, on the local and federal levels. Local grievances run through the school’s Title IX’s coordinator or office. Federal complaints go to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

These investigations can take months or years to complete.