Will Transgendered Athletes Now Give Back Their Medals and Titles?
A decade or two ago, who would have thought a topic such as this would be newsworthy or relevant? Athletic competitions and sports leagues were always separated by age, gender, weight class, or other physical attributes which could convey an unfair advantage to some athletes, with a goal of creating a “level playing field."
Yet here we are today, in the age of wokeness and virtue-signaling, with biologic males, under the guise of transgenderism, competing against biologic females, putting the latter at a huge and often insurmountable disadvantage. How’s that for one of the pillars of the modern woke movement, namely “equity”?
Most readers are likely familiar with the past year’s saga involving a transgendered college swimmer. I am referring to Lia Thomas, winner of the NCAA collegiate women’s swim championship 500-yard freestyle event. But Lia wasn’t always Lia. He was born and grew up as a boy.
The story began last fall and, in brief, involves a University of Pennsylvania swimmer named Will Thomas, an unremarkable men’s swimmer whose life and swimming career went on hiatus due to COVID. During his year off, Will became Lia and is now a member of the Penn women’s swim team. While a mediocre men’s swimmer, Lia is anything but as a women’s swimmer. “UPenn trans swimmer, 22, sparks outrage by smashing women’s competition records after competing as a man for three seasons.”
Thomas, competing as a transgender athlete, dominated collegiate women’s swimming. At the ivy league championships. Thomas still had the advantage where she, “Dominates 200-yard freestyle at Ivy League swimming championships and sets a new tournament record.”
Next was the women’s NCAA championships, where to no one’s surprise, Thomas, a biologic man, trounced the field, winning the 500-yard freestyle national championship. Thomas also competed in the 200-yard freestyle, tying for fifth, still an impressive performance. She fizzled in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing 8th in the final, but her presence in the final denied a spot to one of the women swimming who was downgraded to the consolation race.
After outcry from past and present athletes, courageous enough to speak out against the closed-minded woke brigades embedded within politics, academia, and the media, “Big Athletics” finally faced up to their big lie and acknowledged the obvious, that boys and girls are biologically different, something most of us figured out quite early in life.
YouTube screen grab
FINA, the international regulatory body for aquatic sports, finally had their “emperor has no clothes” moment:
Historically, Aquatics sport has been separated into men’s and women’s competition categories. The separation reflects the sport’s commitment to: (1) ensuring equal opportunity for both male and female athletes to participate and succeed in the sport, including through the equal representation in its programs and competitions of athletes of both biological sexes; (2) ensuring competitive fairness and physical safety within its competition categories
Because of the performance gap that emerges at puberty between biological males as a group and biological females as a group, separate sex competition is necessary for the attainment of these objectives. Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury.
Male-to-female transgender athletes (transgender women)…are eligible to compete in the women’s category in FINA competitions and to set FINA World Records in the women’s category in FINA competitions…if they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.
Finally, they acknowledge the concept of puberty, a process every adult in the world went through. The science, according to the International Olympic Committee is simple: “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.”
Puberty is when boys differentiate from girls through muscle and bone mass, strength, and power. Once the athletic engine is built, adult testosterone levels matter little. This means that a trans female swimmer keeping her testosterone level below a certain number isn’t relevant since she went through male puberty years earlier.
FINA is also looking into creating an “open competition” category for transgendered athletes, allowing them and biologic females to compete separately, creating a fairer playing field for each group. This is a reasonable accommodation, assuming there is sufficient demand and resources for an additional category aside from men and women.
After the ruling, unfairly disadvantaged female athletes are optimistic. University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who tied Thomas for 5th place in the 200 Freestyle finals at this year's NCAA championships remarked, "It's definitely a step in the right direction. I think this is kind of the first large governing body that has prioritized fairness in women's sports, and so while it's not everything, it's definitely a bold first step and a step in the right direction."
She also noted the fundamental unfairness of this entire issue. "It's a huge time commitment," Gaines said. "You're practicing over 20 hours every week. You're in the water five hours almost every single day, and so it's a huge time commitment and to go into a meet knowing pretty much you're going to lose and to already kind of be defeated."
Now will the transgendered athletes who unfairly won medals and set records now return the “stolen jewelry” as former President Trump likes to say? Numerous Tour de France cyclists gave up their medals over doping infractions. One could say transgendered athletes are “doping” by going through male puberty, their growing and developing bodies bathed in testosterone, unlike their future female competitors.
Perhaps Big Athletics is now following the science, as the Daily Mail reported, “David Gerrard, vice chairman of FINA's Sports Medicine Committee, said the decision has provided a blueprint for other sports to follow in balancing fairness with inclusion, and was backed by a robust process.”
Going further, “To my mind, FINA's approach to this was very enlightened, it was very balanced, it was informed,” New Zealand native Gerrard, a former Olympic swimmer, told Reuters.
“It recognized the athlete's voice, the scientific, objective evidence and the somewhat more subjective, human rights (and) legal issues which were argued very forcefully by the lawyers present,” noted Gerard.
Imagine that, following the science. Hopefully the same can be applied to the myriad COVID mandates and restrictions, and climate change hysteria, making informed and enlightened decisions based on evidence and science rather than politics, money, and control.
While this may be a good first step in that direction, don’t hold your breath that this becomes the norm as other agendas are at play trumping actually following the science.
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a physician and writer. Follow me on Twitter @retinaldoctor. And on Truth Social @BrianJoondeph.