Boys Replacing Girls in Sports – Feminists Yawn
Women's sports are again under attack. Decades ago, it was due to tradition and patriarchy, with funding and attention lavished primarily on men’s sports. Title IX came in 1972, leveling the playing field. At the time, there were just over 300,000 women and girls participating in high school and college sports. Female athletes only received 2 percent of college athletic budgets and few if any women received athletic scholarships.
Forty years later in 2012, great progress was made with 3 million girls participating in high school sports and 190,000 in college sports, a sixfold increase since 1972. But instead of continued progress, our new woke culture is turning back the clock on women’s sports, all in the name of equity, tolerance, and diversity, setting female athletes back decades.
Along with news of the latest coronavirus variant and new life-crushing mandates, was a story in the Daily Mail that garnered little attention from the U.S. corporate media or women’s rights groups.
The headline, “UPenn trans swimmer, 22, sparks outrage by smashing women’s competition records after competing as a man for three seasons.”
Will Thomas, now 22, swam for the University of Pennsylvania men’s swim team for three years before taking a year off due to the COVID pandemic, with his last event competing as a man in November 2019. At some point thereafter, Will began transitioning from Will to Lia. Per NCAA rules, any trans female athlete can take part in women’s events if they have completed a year of testosterone suppression treatment.
In November 2021, Thomas competed in a tri-meet between UPenn, Cornell, and Princeton, “where the senior 'blasted' UPenn records in the 200m and 500m freestyle - posting times that beat almost every other female swimmer across America.”
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These times were so fast that, “Thomas would have been in line to secure a silver medal at the NCAA Women's Championships, while her 4:35:06 in the 500m freestyle would have been good enough to win bronze.” The article does not say if Thomas was an NCAA champion level swimmer as a man, but I doubt it.
For the woke brigade that thinks gender is simply a social construct, let’s look at the Tokyo Olympic results for one of these events, the 200m freestyle swim event. The female gold medal winner, Ariarne Titmus’s winning time was 1:53.50. On the men’s side in the same event, before the finals, before even the semifinals, in the heats, looking at the 39 male competitors, all but one would have beaten Titmus’s gold medal time. The men’s gold medal swim was 1:44.22, 9 seconds faster than the women’s gold medal time
What about the women swimmers, training for years, now competing on an uneven playing field, or in this case in an uneven swimming pool, against a male swimmer, and not having any chance of beating him? Is that fair to them? Where are the feminists and women’s rights advocates? Is the pink-hat brigade marching in protest as they did after Donald Trump’s election?
Similar stories have circulated in the news, also with a ho-hum response from these groups. Several years ago in Connecticut, two boys “transitioning” into girls competed in the girls’ state track championship, taking first and second place in the 55-meter sprint, the winner setting a new state record.
Team sports are similar. The U.S. women’s soccer team, 2015 World Cup winners, lost to a 15-and-under boys team from Dallas. Another example occurred in Australia when the women’s national team lost a practice match 7-0 to a teenaged boys team.
This is not only a problem at the high school and college levels, but also for the Olympics. In this year’s Tokyo games, New Zealand named Laurel Hubbard to its women’s weightlifting roster, making Hubbard the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. As a 43-year-old, Hubbard competed in the category for women over 87 kg.
Hubbard made history by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an individual even at the summer Olympics but failed to reach the final or medal. But the door is open for others.
What does the International Olympic Committee have to say? Their 2015 guidelines stated,
Athletes who transition from male to female can compete in the women’s category without requiring surgery to remove their testes provided their total testosterone level in serum is kept below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months.
However, a number of scientific papers have recently shown people who have undergone male puberty retain significant advantages in power and strength even after taking medication to suppress their testosterone levels.
The IOC acknowledged the important point about male puberty, when testosterone separates boys from girls in terms of muscle mass, strength, and power. The level of testosterone in adulthood matters little as the athletic engine has already been built during puberty.
The IOC issued new guidelines last month, “dropping controversial policies that required competing athletes to undergo ‘medically unnecessary’ procedures or treatment,” -- meaning testosterone testing or treatment.
This Framework recognizes both the need to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their gender identity or sex variations, can practice sport in a safe, harassment-free environment that recognizes and respects their needs and identities.
Now even testosterone levels, a poor measure as noted above, are no longer necessary.
The new IOC Framework makes clear that no athlete has an inherent advantage & moves away from eligibility criteria focused on testosterone levels, a practice that caused harmful & abusive practices such as invasive physical examinations & sex testing.
Under these rules, athletes can choose their gender for competition. How will this work out?
Try this in professional golf, with larger and stronger males competing against women, the men hitting from the women’s tees or the women hitting from the back tees used by the men. Pick other sports, like baseball, basketball, football, or hockey and imagine how that would play out.
There are indeed inherent advantages in sports for boys over girls, men over women, as some brave prominent athletes are willing to point out. This is the reason there have been separate men’s and women’s sports and leagues from high school through professional sports.
Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has his/her own opinions, reflecting being on both sides of this controversy.
It’s a question of fairness. That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school. It just isn't fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova agrees,
It's insane and it's cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.
These are not fringe opinions from right-wing fanatics. Jenner is transgendered and Navratilova is a lesbian, both strong supporters of LGBT rights but also of athletic fairness, the latter a concept lost on the woke left.
So here we are now, with a college guy, competing on a men’s team for three years, then choosing a different gender, now competing against women, and due to his anatomy and physiology, soundly defeating them. How did the second place finisher feel about sacrificing her victory to guy?
Were any university or athletic officials outraged over the unfairness of this? UPenn has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Do they support this swimming travesty as inclusive for women athletes? Has Vice President Kamala Harris or Senator Kirsten Gillibrand weighed in as they did during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings? The National Organization for Women has not issued a press release on this outrage against women athletes.
Girls, women, their coaches, and parents should all be outraged. If biologic men can compete as women, it makes women’s sports irrelevant. Why bother with the pretense anymore, just make it a free-for-all, where anyone can compete with anyone, regardless of biologic sex, weight class, or any other physical parameter than confers advantage to some. All in the name of equity.
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a physician and writer. On Twitter as @retinaldoctor.
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