Professional transgender athletes: when “inclusivity” goes too far | The Smartest Man in the Room

Even on hormone therapy, the average transgender woman will have an advantage over biological women.

In 2019, Swimmer Will Thomas was named Second Team All Ivy League, a worthwhile achievement but not one which placed him in the upper echelon of NCAA College Swimming Ranks. Thomas held no university records; had never won an individual conference title and had yet to reach the top of the podium at the NCAA Swimming Meet, where the best of collegiate swimmers compete. He then took two years off.

After a two year respite, in November, 2021, Thomas returned to swimming, and boy oh boy did Thomas make a triumphant splash. Swimming at the University of Akron Zippy Invitational, Thomas dominated the competition, winning three events, setting Meet and University records while recording the fastest NCAA collegiate times in all three events and winning the 1650 meter swim by a whopping 38 seconds.

“That was so easy-I was cruising,” Thomas allegedly said after winning 500 Meter Free but, still a bit disappointed with the final time, Thomas reportedly said, “at least I am still number one in the country”.

So what had happened to Thomas in those two years to turn an above average college swimmer into an incredible juggernaut, one likely to rewrite the college record books? What magic elixir had transformed Thomas from slightly above ordinary to simply extraordinary? Was it a new training regimen, a new coach or a revolutionary sleek swim suit? No, it was none of the above. Instead, Mr. Will Thomas, the man, decided two years ago that he identified as a woman and as Lia Thomas, joined the Penn Women’s Swim Team and began an assault on women’s swim records and national rankings.

In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX prohibiting discrimination in education, mandating that women were entitled to equal sporting opportunities as men.

Very few object to Title IX. It’s only fair that women should have the same right to enjoy sports as men. They should have the same opportunity to excel, compete, build confidence, be placed in leadership roles, and given the opportunity to receive free tuition by way of college scholarships for their athletic prowess.

But what happens to that fairness when athletes born as biological men decide that they identify as women and wish to compete in women’s sports?

Moreover, what constitutes a woman or man for sporting competitions?

Some claim gender classification is easy: a woman is a person anatomically born with a vagina while a man is a person born with a penis.

Not so fast, others say, as the power lies with the individual who is the sole arbitrator to decide whether such person born as a biological male identifies as a female or whether a person born as a biological female identifies as a male. It’s referred to as being transgender.

Which leads us to the bigger question: Under Title IX, is it discriminatory to biological women to allow biological men who identify as a transgender women to compete in women’s sports?

And why does it matter?

Well, it’s beginning to matter. Ten years ago the issue was not even a blip on the social consciousness of our country, but now, it’s gathering attention all across the globe. In New Zealand, Tracey Lambrechs, a 2016 Rio Olympian and the holder of numerous NZ female weightlifting records had every record broken in the course of one single weekend by transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard, who previously competed as a male. Lambrechs was further denied a repeat Olympic opportunity in Tokyo in 2021 because Hubbard replaced her on the NZ Women’s Weightlifting Team.

In Great Britain, according to the BBC, transgender rugby player Kelly Morgan, known as the “Beast”, is laying waste to opponents in a Welsh women’s rugby league. “She’s going to be a good, good player for the next few years, as long as we can stop her injuring players in training,” Morgan’s coach, Brian Minty, told the BBC with Morgan’s Team Captain adding: “Morgan folded a girl like a deckchair during a game, which was quite funny.”

According to PJ Media (quoting the U.K. Sunday Times) it’s gotten so bad in the U.K. that rugby referees are quitting their jobs rather than watch male players who “identify as women,” break female players’ bones. World Rugby, the governing body of rugby has taken note, now banning biological men identifying as transgender women from women’s rugby altogether.

In Connecticut, between 2017 and 2019, two young men identifying as transgender females won 15 Women’s State Track Championship Titles. Shortly thereafter, 10 states enacted legislation restricting transgender women from competing in women’s sports. The ACLU quickly filed suit against Idaho, the first state to adopt a ban, claiming discrimination against transgender women.

This might be the first time in history where opposite sides to a single argument both claim gender discrimination against the other, with biological women alleging discrimination for allowing transgender women into women’s sports with the opposition crying illegal discrimination by attempting to keep them out.

In 2020, the U.S. DOJ under the Trump Administration sided with biological females: “The Equal Protection Clause does not require states to abandon their efforts to provide biological women with equal opportunity to compete for, and enjoy the life-long benefits that flow from, participation in school athletics in order to accommodate the team preferences of transgender athletes.”

But elections have consequences and as soon as Joe Biden took office, he reversed the DOJ position, issuing an executive order providing that “children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports…” So, as it stands now, if you are a man who identifies as a woman, public educational institutions must allow such person to use the women’s bathroom and play women’s sports if such person so desires.

In almost all sports, biological men have a distinct physical advantage over women. There are a disingenuous few, however, who claim biological men identifying as transgender women don’t really have a sporting advantage over biological women. It’s farce.

Without a doubt, after puberty, men have a distinct competitive advantage. Men are born with much higher levels of testosterone which makes them, on average, post puberty, bigger, faster and stronger than their female counterparts.

Prior to puberty, the performance gap is not always present, as indicated by the presence of many young women playing in the Little League World Series for kids 12 and under. In fact, my adolescent sisters routinely beat their male counterparts in neighborhood foot races when we were young.

That performance gap, however, expands greatly into adulthood and is why there are no female players in any of the major men’s professional leagues such as the NBA, NFL, PGA, ATP and the PBA. It’s also why no women are on scholarship to play men’s college football, men’s college basketball, men’s college soccer or any other NCAA male sport.

According to a Duke Law Study, a specific example of this performance gap includes Olympic, World, and U.S. Champion Tori Bowie. Her 100 meter lifetime best of 10.78 seconds was bested over 10,000 times by men and high school boys in 2017.

The same holds true for Allyson Felix, the most decorated track athlete in Olympic history. Felix’s 400 meter lifetime best of 49.26 seconds was also bested more than 13,000 times by men and high school boys in 2017.

This performance difference isn’t the result of boys and men having a male identity, access to better training or improved socio-economic circumstances; it’s because they have heaps of testosterone and, according to Duke Law, there is no other physical, cultural, or socio-economic trait as important as testes for sports competition. It’s the testes that fuel the athletic prowess of men and the reason why steroids, human growth hormones and testosterone are outlawed, banned substances which, if taken, will result in the athlete being banned from competition.

Now the NCAA understands this and tinkers with testosterone to level the playing field. According to NCAA policy, a transgender female may compete in women’s sports if the athlete has undergone one year of testosterone suppression treatment. The problem with this approach is two-fold: 1) If you are already 6-foot-3 with oversized hands, feet and huge muscular frame, you will still be 6-foot-3 with oversized hands and feet with a slightly less muscular frame a year after testosterone suppression and, 2) The NCAA admits this is an “evolving” science which indicates that it doesn’t actually know if only one year of suppression is sufficient for every transgender woman, especially when they start with such a higher level of testosterone as men compared to biological women.

Suffice to say, the issue is complicated and it’s not going away.

In his novel “Finnegan’s Wake”, Dublin Author James Joyce wrote that, “The first riddle of the universe is: When is a man not a man?” When it comes to sports, the answer is not so clear.