Lia Thomas Debate: Women’s Sports Policy Working Group Focused on Protection of Female Sports

lia-thomas-penn, transgender

Lia Thomas Debate: Women’s Sports Policy Working Group Focused on Protection of Female Sports

The Lia Thomas situation, in which the transgender athlete is flourishing for the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming program, is garnering major headlines around the world. The story has been picked up by news outlets in multiple continents and, as the season continues, the debate concerning Thomas’ eligibility is not going away.

As a refresher, Thomas was a member of Penn’s men’s swimming team for three years, earning All-Ivy League honors. But after transitioning from male to female and following a season in which COVID-19 canceled Ivy League athletics, Thomas is now representing the women’s squad. During the early portion of the season, she has produced several top performances, including No. 1-ranked national times in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Thomas became eligible to compete for the Penn women based on NCAA guidelines, which require one year of testosterone suppressants for individuals born as males. However, Thomas continues to benefit from the biological advantages of being born as a male, and from nearly 20 years of testosterone production.

The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, which features former elite athletes and administrators, has been addressing the issue of transgender women competing against biological females. The group includes a pair of Olympic-champion swimmers, Donna de Varona and Nancy Hogshead-Makar. Tennis champion Martina Navratilova is also a member of the group, which has established the following mission statement.

“Our mission is to affirm the legal permissibility of separate girls’ and women’s competitive sport teams while including all trans girls and trans women under the girls’ and women’s sports umbrella. We reject both the effort to exclude trans girls and trans women from girls’ and women’s sport and the effort to disadvantage females by forcing them to compete against some trans athletes with male sex-linked physical advantages. There is a middle way.”

On its comprehensive website, the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group details considerable information related to transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. Ample discussion is spent on the implementation of Title IX and the protection it affords women’s sports. Additionally, data is presented which highlights the differences between biological female athletes and trans women who experienced male puberty.

“Law and sports policy makers understood that from the onset of male puberty, male bodies develop such that they are, as a group, faster, stronger, and more powerful than female bodies as a group,” the website states. “The performance gap between male and female athletes that emerges from that point typically ranges from 8-20% depending on the sport and event, and up to 50% where explosive power and complex movement skills are pivotal.”

The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group has made it clear that it is focused on providing a fair playing field for biological female athletes while simultaneously providing athletic opportunities for trans women.

“It is essential that we continue to safeguard girls’ and women’s sport. It is also good policy to be inclusive when doing so does not harm the female sports competition or the individuals separate sex sport is designed to protect. Congress and the Administration should make it clear that institutions governed by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (the Sports Act), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) will:

“(1) continue to be obligated to provide males and females with equal sporting opportunities on the basis of biological sex, and

“(2) be newly obligated to provide ways to include trans girls/women in girls’/women’s sports that ensure competitive fairness and playing-safety without diminishing the protection of biological females.

“This two-step approach safeguards the integrity of the existing competitive sport process in which millions of girls and women participate annually. It also incrementally and thoughtfully expands the development of additional sports opportunities for emerging trans girls/women.”

To learn more about its position, visit the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group website.

19 comments

  1. avatar
    Steve

    The first rule change should be that your gender as declared at the beginning of your NCAA eligibility shall be your gender for the entirety of your eligibility. This fits well in the current rules.

  2. avatar
    Laurie

    The first biological truth is that your sex as you are born is your sex for the entirety of your life. No human can change sex. Gender is a performance, and anyone can change his or her performance of gender stereotypes, but no one can change their sex. Human sex is binary and immutable.

    • avatar
      an

      “The first biological truth is that your sex as you are born is your sex for the entirety of your life. No human can change sex. Gender is a performance, and anyone can change his or her performance of gender stereotypes, but no one can change their sex. Human sex is binary and immutable.”

      Well said! Also, on another note, the rules of gender identity also applies to allowing males, trans women or not, into domestic violence/homeless shelters and prison for women! So unfair!

    • avatar
      Erik Rivas

      “The first biological truth is that your sex as you are born is your sex for the entirety of your life. No human can change sex. Gender is a performance, and anyone can change his or her performance of gender stereotypes, but no one can change their sex. Human sex is binary and immutable‘. Gender and sex are the SAME thing. Your muddying of definitions doesn’t solve anything. This gender (or sex) fluidity is a stupid leftist nonsense and must end. I hope more of these sport incidents will make the lie of gender fluidity more obvious. The universities have been taken over by the transgender nazis. They must be stopped!

  3. avatar
    an

    “The first biological truth is that your sex as you are born is your sex for the entirety of your life. No human can change sex. Gender is a performance, and anyone can change his or her performance of gender stereotypes, but no one can change their sex. Human sex is binary and immutable.”

    Well said! Also, on another note, the rules of gender identity also applies to allowing males, trans women or not, into domestic violence/homeless shelters and prison for women! So unfair!

  4. avatar
    John R Mccullough

    I fully agree with Laurie above.
    I have no issue at all with a persons gender identity except when it means they have unfair advantage in sports.
    This will destroy Title IX and all of girls/womens sports.
    This is a very sad situation that can be changed now only in the courts.

    • avatar
      Veritas

      The courts won’t do anything. In fact, in the Bostock decision, the Supreme Court used a combination of sophistry and Gnosticism to find that Title VII bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity even though the text of Title VII did no such thing.

      If you want to do something about this, then you need to persuade federal, state and local elected officials to enact the right legislation. That’s why being able to debate this is so important. And it’s why the Thought Police are working overtime to prevent the wrong viewpoint from being expressed.

      • avatar
        Linda

        Shall we install a third division: Male, Female, Trans? Trans-women can then compete against themselves.

  5. avatar
    Chuck

    The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group provides what amounts to being a word salad, and declares there is a “middle way,” but fails to say what that “middle way” is, suggesting to me that it is yet to be invented. If this trans-psychosis must be accommodated, the only reasonable solution is to provide four categories of sports competition…men, women, and one each for persons who, contrary to biology, identify as a gender other than the sex they were immutably born with.

    I would predict, however, that this will have disastrous consequences for non-revenue (minor) sports at the university level. As costs and other accommodations have to be made, it will effectively kill swimming at some schools, especially smaller ones. Recent history has proven that our sport is already vulnerable to being put on the block by budget-stressed Athletic Directors and administrations.

    Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.

    • avatar
      Logical

      What would be the point of a Women’s Sports Policy Working Group if the “middle way” was clearly defined at the outset of the group lol

      • avatar
        Swammer

        A separate category for trans men seems like a waste of time and resources considering that Schuyler Bailar at Harvard was able to compete against other men despite an inherent disadvantage. A separate category for trans women doesn’t solve the issue of having a level playing field w/r/t WHEN someone transitions. Most of us can agree that someone who begins HRT before hitting puberty would be at a disadvantage to someone like Lia, who began her transition in her 20’s. Is it rational to exclude a trans woman from competing as a woman if she transitioned before developing the biological advantages of an adult male? I would argue that it is not. Would those women have the option to compete in either category? What would be the cut-off, considering that puberty hits us all at a different age? How would the separate categories that do nothing but isolate trans individuals – who make up less than 1% of the US population – be the “reasonable” option?

      • avatar
        Chuck

        Swammer,
        We left sanity and reasonableness some time ago when society at-large, and institutions of higher learning in particular, decided that a mental illness should be responded to with acceptance and encouragement, rather than serious psychological intervention and treatment. My suggestion above was that if the NCAA and its member institutions cannot, and will not, summon the courage to embrace the rational and logical, then provide something special and uniquely tailored for everyone…those born male, those born female, and the other two (at least for now) categories of those imagining themselves to be male or female. If the NCAA and its members want to be IN, go ALL IN. But to fantasize that someone can shape shift from one of the two settled DNA chromosomal binary outcomes of human reproduction and biology is absurd on its face and to think that there is fair competition between born-as women and trans-women is even more so. And it will only be a matter of time before there is some grievance that trans-men are disadvantaged by having to compete with born-as males.
        Maybe when this silliness is allowed to reach it logical conclusion and the whole intercollegiate athletics system implodes, things will get better. Sad, but it may come to that.

  6. avatar
    Bob_b

    Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes. Unless you are a female, in that case, we offer a frustrating environment where our male athletes who did not excell in their respective sport can thrive and boast their accomplishments in the female divisions. We offer a wide varity of counseling services to our female athletes to navigate through their challanges of wasted efforts

    • avatar
      Veritas

      And, if you disagree with the Penn policy, you need mental health counseling. But, if you suffer from gender dysphoria, you are not mentally ill and if you suggest that gender dysphoria is a mental illness, Swimming World Magazine will delete your post.

    • avatar
      Chuck

      Bob_b and Veritas
      I appreciate and share your cynicism. Very well said!

      • avatar
        Veritas

        While I am cynical about many things, I’m just stating facts about what Penn has announced as part of its damage control and what Swimming World Magazine is doing.

  7. avatar
    Janet

    I take exception to the statement that the gender you are born with is the gender for your entire life. There have been (extremely rare) cases where girls have been born with testicles hidden in their lower abdominal cavity, and they have higher levels of testosterone. They need help getting back in balance one way or the other.

    I agree with the suggestion that however you start your NCAA career, that’s how you should finish – no changing in the middle.

  8. avatar
    ed

    This isn’t intended to be offensive or humorous. But my question is, what must be done to “declare” a gender change? Is surgery required? What about hormones? Must the change have existed for a certain period of time? Can I simply show up one day and declare a change? Can I change back at will? Can I keep my original equipment and still declare a change? Can I race as a different gender on different days?

  9. avatar
    Kenneth Russell

    Lia Thomas has a right to become a Woman but CAN’T become a Female. No Drug or surgery can change the fact that Females have XX Chromosomes and Male Species have XY Chromosomes in their cells. You Can’t change Science. You can’t change Biology. There is no Debate here! Unfair computation like a Horse and a Donkey race. Just isn’t the same. As a High School Water Polo swimmer I Know the difference between Male (XY) and Female (XX)

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