Petition Launched to ‘Urge USA Swimming to Prioritize Fairness in Women’s Sports’

lia-thomas-hogshead-controversy, transgender

Petition Launched to “Urge USA Swimming to Prioritize Fairness in Women’s Sports”

Since last week’s NCAA announcement that sport-specific organizations would dictate future policy regarding transgender athletes, there has been an intense focus on new rules to come from USA Swimming and FINA in advance of the NCAA Championships, where Penn’s Lia Thomas is currently slated to compete. Thomas, a transgender female who owns the top times in the country in the 200 and 500 freestyle, has been eligible under the existing NCAA rules, but the latest announcement called her ability to remain eligible into question.

Champion Women, an organization led by Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar which advocates for girls and women in sports, has launched a petition aimed at USA Swimming, encouraging the national governing body “to adopt transgender eligibility guidelines that are evidence-based and that affirm fairness in the women’s swimming category.” The petition adds that notes the urgency of the request, with the NCAA Championships less than two months away. It says, “we respectfully request that USA Swimming adopt an interim evidence-based transgender eligibility process to be announced well before the Women’s NCAA Championships, March 16-19, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.”

The petition lays out its requests for new transgender participation policy that would guide the sport, and it argues that current rules from the NCAA, USA Swimming and FINA “prioritize the interests of transgender individuals over the interests of biological females.” It then states that women’s sports “are separate from men’s because of the immutable physical and physiological differences between males as a group and females as a group,” which the petition argues cannot be nullified by hormone therapy.

The petition claims that sports organizations should stand up for competitive equity for women and compares the failure to do so as comparable with the East German doping scandal of the 1980s. The petition uses data from Thomas for an example, showing how she has been more successful as a female swimmer than when she was competing in the men’s category. It also emphasizes that transgender athletes would be provided with inclusive opportunities in the sport.

“Swimming teams are typically co-ed,” noted Hogshead-Makar. “More often than not, we train, lift, stretch, travel, and compete together. Separating just girls’ and women’s competition eligibility from team inclusion means that transgender athletes will always be able to participate in the social construct of sport – the 95% of sport – the workouts, socializing, team meetings, and travel. Only 5% of sport-time involves competition.”

Read the complete petition from Champion Women below, and the petition itself is available here.

The undersigned members of the swimming community ask that USA Swimming take a leadership role within the global sport community to adopt transgender eligibility guidelines that are evidence-based and that affirm fairness in the women’s swimming category.

The NCAA has recently announced it would defer to USA Swimming’s transgender eligibility standards, and FINA has said that its transgender eligibility standards will not be finalized prior to the championship season. Therefore, we respectfully request that USA Swimming adopt an interim evidence-based transgender eligibility process to be announced well before the Women’s NCAA Championships, March 16-19, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Respectfully, we request that USA Swimming’s interim eligibility process incorporate the following elements:

    1. An expert review committee consisting of recognized experts in swimming performance, sex differences in human performance, physiology, cardiology, and endocrinology.
    2. Examination of physician documented evidence such as:
      1. Suppression of testosterone into the female range for a minimum number of years prior to swimming competition in the female category.
      2. Demonstration of continuation of suppression of testosterone in the female range during the period of eligibility for swimming regular season and championship competition in the female category.
      3. Necessary certifications concerning timing, levels, and consistency, should be reported by the athlete’s treating endocrinologist to ensure monitoring is not unnecessarily intrusive.
    3. Consideration of male-puberty mitigation in swimming performance by event, such as:
      1. Examination of pre-/post- transition time declines compared to the current NCAA qualifying time male/female percent difference as a proxy for the expected male/female difference.
      2. Examination of pre-/post- hierarchical ranking in male and female D-I swimmers to
        determine whether these rankings are reasonably within the same range.
      3. Examination of pre-/post- video evidence of swimming performance to verify that the swimmer is maximizing their performance effort.
    4. Review of drug testing results during the regular season or at conference or NCAA
      championship events.

Sports organizations regularly recite that they will “balance inclusion, safety and fairness.” But their inadequate transgender eligibility standards are failing biological females, 54.2% of USA Swimming’s member-athletes in 2020. Meanwhile, the Williams Institute has estimated general transgender population as less than 1%. While we do not know how many transgender athletes are participating in competitive men’s and women’s sport programs, we do know that inadequate eligibility standards (as currently exist in the NCAA, USA Swimming and FINA) prioritize the interests of transgender individuals over the interests of biological females.

In the 1970s and 1980s, sport failed to address the travesty of East German women dominating swimming by ingesting and injecting large amounts of performance enhancing drugs. At the time, sport leaders did not stand up for U.S. women who were not testosterone advantaged. Instead, women were told to be gracious losers. Now in 2022, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, USA Swimming’s 2022 guidelines on transgender inclusion must support competitive equality for biological women. Do not tell women to be gracious losers again.

Women’s sports, including women’s swimming, are separate from men’s because of the immutable physical and physiological differences between males as a group and females as a group. As a legal matter, there is no alternative, defensible, rationale for sex-segregation in sport. Recognizing, respecting, and accommodating male and female differences ensures that sport meets its social justice obligations to both female and transgender athletes, enables fair and safe competitive sport, and secures the integrity and viability of female sport.


The Immediate Issue:

In 2021, a transgender woman began competing for the University of Pennsylvania in the Women’s NCAA Division 1 category after three years competing on the men’s team, Lia Thomas. Lia is on track to win at the Women’s NCAA Championships, and possibly even break Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky’s records. After the NCAA Championships, it will be difficult to undo the damage.

Transgender women should compete head-to-head in women’s events only when they can demonstrate that they’ve rolled back the physical advantages that result from male puberty, and are no longer benefitting from the structural and physiological effects of circulating testosterone outside of the female range. 

As we explain below, Lia Thomas cannot make such a showing even based on the limited data available.

The table below and preliminary scientific analysis demonstrates that Lia Thomas is currently overperforming in women’s events. The male-female performance gap in NCAA swimming is between 8.7% in distance events and 13.3% in the sprints. But Lia’s testosterone suppression has not resulted in moving her times anywhere close to the times necessary to demonstrate she has “mitigated” the advantage she received from 10 years of male-puberty. Based on NCAA historical performance data and the effects of testosterone suppression, Lia’s fast times are unlikely to be the result of normal development over time, including male-typical training gains in the collegiate cycle.

Had testosterone suppression worked to roll back Lia’s male-puberty advantages, we would have expected to see the gap between her performances grow at least to approximate the gap between males and females generally. Instead, Lia has gone from being ranked #462 in the country in the men’s 200 yard freestyle, to #1 in the women’s 200 yard freestyle. She has gone from being #65th in the men’s 500 yard freestyle to being #2 in the women’s 500 yard freestyle.

Additionally, the overall pattern of Lia’s times are consistent with the research on transition; her times have moved closer to the women’s times in the women’s endurance events as compared to her times in the sprints; she is a much better sprinter post-transition than she was pre-transition.

We have no reason to doubt Lia’s word and her institution’s representation that she followed the NCAA’s non-scientific transgender inclusion policies, which required transgender women to complete at least “one-year of testosterone suppression treatment.

However, we now know that the NCAA’s standard was based on the hypothesis that one year of testosterone suppression would be sufficient to roll back a transgender woman’s male-puberty performance advantages. But new scientific evidence and results like Lia Thomas’s demonstrate that mitigation may not be possible in the sport of swimming.

We, the undersigned members of the swimming community, ask that USA Swimming adopt transgender eligibility guidelines that are evidence-based and that affirm fairness in the women’s swimming category.

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Christa Wright
3 months ago

I agree they need to change the rule give transgender their own division or swim under birth gender always

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Suzy
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Definitely have their own dicision

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Mary Elizabeth Dunlap
3 months ago
Reply to  Suzy

I totally agree with the science, reasoning, and logic of this petition!

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Janice
3 months ago
Reply to  Suzy

Absolutely

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Jenn
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Agree!

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Jack Horsley
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

I agree that transgender women have an in fair advantage over cis women and should compete in there own division.

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Terry Barker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack Horsley

Women need to ban together and boycott there chosen sport the crowds of fans are not going to come and watch a Trans swim alone or run one person track meet. I know missing competitions will be very disappointing but without athletes there is competition .I

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Caroline
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

I agree –

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Terry Barker
3 months ago
Reply to  Caroline

Women need to ban together and boycott there chosen sport the crowds of fans are not going to come and watch a Trans swim alone or run one person track meet. I know missing competitions will be very disappointing but without athletes there is competition .I

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Anonymous
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

i agree. It certainly is not fair to discriminate against Trans gender but it likewise is not fair to discriminate against biological females. Trans genders should compete in a division against same

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David
3 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I can’t imagine no one saw this coming. Men are not women. And women are not men. This will potentially ruin All women’s sports.

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Shay
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Agreed. Keep it separate. BTW there are photos of world known IS “female” gymnasts with extra parts including a belt named Adonis. Transgendering pre-pubescent makes them go under the radar. It’s a boy but announce “it’s a girl” with surgeries to follow later. Deceptions run deep and wide.

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shay
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Keep the biological females together, period. Keep it pure and fair. But keep this in mind, there are photos of very well known US gymnasts (“female”) with something extra from years before and still maintaining a certain belt, named Adonis.

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Kathy Duchaney
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Maybe have three categories of competition:Men,Women and Everyone . Competition at every level is what we all seek,(age and gender) but accepting the situation or circumstance with racing should be a choice. When it really counts with records and scholarships it needs to be a level playing field that’s the beauty of sports!

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Christine C
2 months ago
Reply to  Kathy Duchaney

I agree.

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Michael Babbitt
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Exactly.

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Janice
3 months ago
Reply to  Christa Wright

Yes

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Frances Capella
3 months ago

This situation demands urgent action to protect the integrity of women’s sports. It is unfair competition of the most disgraceful order as it exists at UPENN with Lia Thomas .

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Alfred
3 months ago

Thank you for this petition. I am relieved to know it’s no longer in vogue for women to be ‘gracious losers.’ What a crock that always was.
When you look at Thomas’s physique, it’s obvious the advantage is more than testosterone, and will never be anything but a male swimmer’s body. I have seen recently that Thomas is only exerting enough to win races. This is fairly insulting to watch. I hope women get their sport back.

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Cricket
3 months ago
Reply to  Alfred

I totally agree. It’s disgusting to see so many in the women’s races with manly shoulders and narrow hips. I’ve heard that most of them don’t even have periods! It’s not fair to the real women.

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Alfred
3 months ago
Reply to  Cricket

Are you attempting to be amusing, or are you just clueless? I would give Thomas a month, tops, in a “real woman’s” body before he would be screaming to have his male body back. He’s connected more strongly to his feminine side, presumably, and that’s as far as it goes. His male physiology will never be that of a woman.

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Anonymous
3 months ago
Reply to  Alfred

There should be women’s sports men sports and transgender sports.
All should be welcomed, but only in their own category.
Everyone is free to be who they are. But don’t take sports away from women.
If you have a penis but feel like a women that is perfectly ok. You have that right
But you cant physically compete with females who have a vagina.
It’s just not fair!!
Have a trans swim team. That’s fair for everyone.

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Toby James
3 months ago

Simple just make separate categories trans male to female and trans female to male. Problem solved

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Jim H
3 months ago
Reply to  Toby James

I agree. Problem solved.

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David
3 months ago
Reply to  Toby James

I can’t imagine no one saw this coming. Men are not women. And women are not men. This will potentially ruin All women’s sports.

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Angele Holmquist
3 months ago

My father-in-law, brother-in-law, a nephew and two nieces, all D1 swimmers! What an insult to these and other dedicated athletes to let this unfair situation go on. I agree with the comment by Toby James. Separate categories for trans- swimmers.

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Unanimous
3 months ago

I agree! My daughter was a D1 swimmer too and how unfair this is to all females that were born a female. They need to have another category, or Lia should have just waited to do this surgery after Graduating. Wonder now if This was the point to do it during your swim career to possibly go to NCAA’s and potentially win an event too!

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Tonja Braun
3 months ago

Please put an end, totally unfair to female athletes!

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Molli Jackson
3 months ago
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Pokey Richardson
3 months ago

I completely agree with Nancy Hogsheads and Donna deVarona.

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Xuelong Sun
3 months ago

It is absolutely unfair to women!

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Anonymous
3 months ago

I completely agree. This is not fair to women. This needs to end immediately and create a new category for trans to complete on an even playing ground. Not with biological woman.

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Tracy
3 months ago

This is a national disgrace and unfair to women around the world! Good luck with your petition!

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Chet
3 months ago

The decisions we make in life always have consequences. There is always the balancing of the positive and negative. I can understand that not having the ability to participate in competitive athletics in your newly and artificially adopted gender could be disappointing to a transgender person. Therefore, it should be a part of their pro/con decision process as they prepare to transition. They can continue to swim for the rest of their lives, they are just forfeiting the ability to compete in their non birth gender. In light of what they are giving up physical, especially following any surgical interventions, not competing in a swim meet seems somewhat minor.

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Jon
3 months ago

Its a completely selfish move on his part. In an attempt to break down doors there is no consideration of who is behind that door. As a dad of girls I would avoid attending this school given zero opportunity to compete and break any female established records achieved by previous female swimmers. Be whoever you want but don’t steal from someone else simply because you “feel” like a girl.

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Joseph
3 months ago

If all of the woman swimmers went on strike and refused to compete until USA Swimming makes the correct judgment on this issue, I feel as though a correct judgment would be made quickly.

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Anonymous
3 months ago
Reply to  Joseph

Totally agree! Ladies..Unite and TAKE A STAND! Believe me…It’s ALWAYS about the money.

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Sagevb
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Boycott!! It’s unfair!! What’s next women’s boxing??

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Lisa
3 months ago

This is just unfair to women.

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Brenda
3 months ago

Women COUNT! We should not be forced to give up the strides we have made in sports. Girls should not be forced to remain silent on this issue because it isn’t politically correct to speak up on the rights of women. Women athletes who are coming forward to say “Winning isn’t everything “ are just another example of women not supporting women.

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Charles
3 months ago

Just have the different leagues based on sex instead of gender. It was claimed that Gender is a social construct and Sex is biological. So, in a competition that understands the inherent differences between the sexes, gender should not be used as the qualifier . Use Sex, and then most of these males who identify as women are no longer able to take advantage of their real biological advantages against females.

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Colleen Curtis
3 months ago

Need to protect the women in women sports. This needs to be considered or womenswear swimming will be at risk.

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Paul
3 months ago

The initial question of using physiological levels as a basis to determine one’s gender will open the discussion or discrimination of individuals born with unusual levels that could give them what appears an unfair advantage. Should each person have to demonstrate their ie hormone levels to qualify for participation?

On the surface there is an advantage possibly it is the transition time or that inherently the underlying physiological footprint cannot be completely changed?

Two options that might be considered is to allow Tia to compete and for this year two winners are declared and the record is asterisk and given time for review and it could stand or become a new category.
The swimming world has allowed Tia to participate. She has met the conditions to participate. To not allow her that right at this juncture would not be fair.

Nor is it fair to the other competitors only if she is faster?

It is similar to having an open and native champion. You could have a Trans and natural champion.

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Anono
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul

It’s not about whether the trans person wins, it’s about them performing above their ability becauae they are allowes to swim as females. It’s being 200th in male sports and first in women’s. If her testosterone suppression really equalized her advantage, she’d still be a middling swimmer in the female category. This happened with a runner named Cece – 300 or 400th on m3n’s division 2 and wins in women’s and runs less than 0.2 s slower.

They would not regulate women’s hormone levels. I feel like you are saying that because of intersex males (XY DSD) who now have to reduce their testosterone (to still higher than female levels) to compete in the 400 and 800 in the Olympics. They have testes, by definition that makes them a male. The reason they did it was because the 2016 800m women’s track podium had 3 intersex males on it. Women, people with ovaries, need a place to compete fairly.

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Alfred
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul

XX or XY as a determination of sex is a fair way to let women compete with women. In the very rare instances where genetics vary from this, decisions could be made individually. I am mystified now that XX/XY genetics are not the determiner, rather than an amorphous ‘gender’ preference.

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Sagevb
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul

In all of your blustering you mis-named the athlete several times, it’s (Lia). Why don’t we let trans men who’ve been beaten up by other men boxers join women’s boxing so they can win all the women’s championships and medals!! That’d be fair…right? They’ve transitioned their hormone levels with drugs so it shouldn’t be too brutal. Right?? You wanna see if it’s really fair? I say we start there. Lia is no champion anything.

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S C Bennett
3 months ago

NO means NO
NO, you can’t come into womens spaces.
NO, women do not have to accommodate, play nice, include males/trans.
NO, you will not appropriate, invade, and colonize.

Have an OPEN Inclusive category for all who want to compete under a self identified orientation/gender/sex.

People who “identify” as Napoleon aren’t put in charge of the French army.

Psychologists use the term “gaslighting” to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.

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Anonymous
3 months ago
Reply to  S C Bennett

Well put.

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lui
3 months ago

I’m completely for trans athletes to be able to compete, but Lia Thomas poses an issue. The NCAA requirements are clearly not enough. If she was biologically the same as other oleen, she wouldn’t be beating records by minutes. At this point in sports, people don’t break records by more than 60 seconds unless they have an advantage. Not only does Lia likely still have moore testosterone than most women, she waldo had bigger hands, a bigger ribcage, and a bigger, male body. this is an advantage she can never change. I think there should be a separate races for trans athletes to keep competition equal. Also, she has been rude in not saying anything and her teammates have said she has not addressed it whatsoever.

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Lesli
3 months ago

Has Lia ever had to compete while on her period? How come no one ever dopes estrogen?? Hmmm…

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Dan
3 months ago

I agree with this Petition and am for USA swimming to set up standards for men and women and have transgender athletes with their own divisions and racing. Creating a fun , and fair competitive arena for all athletes make and female and trans. Swimming has always been about , high levels of integrity and fairness as best as possible. I grew up loving swimming because of this. As many of us. Let’s keep it fun fair and competitive and inclusive for all yet with discrimination and fairness!! Especially especially to women. Mahalo. To all and Fairness to all 🍀🇺🇸☮️☮️🌼

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Jane E Wright
3 months ago

Have an OPEN Inclusive category for all who want to compete under a self identified orientation/gender/sex.
NCAA officials need to take the high road; athletes compete based on gender at birth. Of course Lia could do the fair thing and compete as a male athlete but isn’t. I’m sure the NCAA would allow her to wear a woman’s swim suit.
Unfortunately, USMS adopted the NCAA policy.
I resigned from my volunteer USMS positions as a result and opted out of USMS Natls in San Antonio.

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Mike3
3 months ago
Reply to  Jane E Wright

Good to know that about USMS. I’ll refrain from joining.

As far as Liam goes, he did compete as a male. Until he apparently got tired of being ranked in the 400s…

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Susan Fernandes
3 months ago

Can I sign this petition? I concur 100%!

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Susan Fernham
3 months ago

Can I sign this petition? I concur 100%

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Monica Dalton
3 months ago

Totally agree; Nancy Hogshead is extremely knowledgeable and I am happy to be part of this petition…

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Seth
3 months ago

I couldn’t disagree more.

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TYGER
3 months ago

Some people just need to complain on a day to day basic. Its one thing to hate trans people but this last minute change the rule crap needs to stop, why wait this long to go after people like this. Terfs just terfing.

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Anono
3 months ago
Reply to  TYGER

You’re a mysogynist to deny the biological reality of females. Mysogynists just mysogynying.

The premature rule changes that allow transwomen into women’s sports without any evidence that it is fair really need to stop. It’s backwards, you prove what makes it fair and then you move to inclusion.

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Alfred
3 months ago
Reply to  TYGER

Yes, well, letting ‘Lia’ swim on the women’s team was given a fair trial run, and it’s turned out to be a miserable mistake and punishing all the wrong people for the dubious needs of one, who still, by the way, has his bits and dates women. When is ‘Lia’ going to take the plunge, I wonder, to the point of no return?

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Tom Szuba
3 months ago

Transgenders should have their own division for swimming and other sports. Women deserve better.

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Shanna
3 months ago

I agree. True women do not share the same physical strengths that men have. Allow us to compete on the same level playing field. I equate hormone treatment either way as doping. Let true women win at least in the event. We already dont get paid fairly. This one more thing that we should NOT bow down graciously to

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Bev
3 months ago

Agree

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Lydia
3 months ago

Agree

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Karan Welling
3 months ago

Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports is completely unfair and the ultimate misogyny. These trans athletes need designated sports of their own.

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B Smith
3 months ago

So it’s only a matter of time before every record and medal in women’s swimming is won by an athlete who was born male and decided they would rather compete against females?? This is outrageously unjust. I can’t believe we are even talking about this in 2022. I believe people should be able to transition genders however they wish, but it is completely unfair of the rulemakers to have elite-level cisgender swimmers competing against trans swimmers. This unfairness needs to end immediately, or it will ruin women’s swimming!

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Anna
3 months ago

Changing one’s identity to compete as a female is an injustice to natural born females. Who one is as he or she identifies is not the same thought process as who one is as one was born.
Seeing a male who have had his identity changed to identify as a female is not the same as being a female. As an individual who is employed in the entertainment industry observing men who now identify as female does not make them feminine enough to identify as female. In my observation as an educated female these people are in some kind of mid- life crisis.
One must be born female to compete as a female.

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Jay V.
3 months ago

Only 2 divisions! NO OTHERS!
Whatever sex on birth certificate thats it!
Born a boy- Compete only against boys.
Born a girl – Compete only against girls.
Ya see, gender confusion is a mental illness and should not be coddled/pretended to be ok.
These poor souls are mentally ill-get them psychiatric professional help as early as possible- do not pretend it’s ok-its not— It’s severe mental illness Get Help to they that need it.

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Jan Pervier Muff
3 months ago

I agree with this petition. It’s only fair.

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Kristen
3 months ago

I agree

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Dana
3 months ago

I agree

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Steph
3 months ago

I agree

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Ivy Kwan
3 months ago
Reply to  Steph

I agree

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Allyson Remak
3 months ago

Where do I sign?

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Jason
3 months ago

I agree with the principles of this petition. It’s a shame that the NCAA based the current standard, or rather lack of a firm standard on a hypothesis. As a father of a competitive female swimmer, I’m hoping USA Swimming and FINA will make the right decision and Protect women’s sports, and fair play.

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Crystal
3 months ago
Reply to  Jason

They’ve made a mockery of women and all the progress we have made in sports by allowing this to continue. It must end.

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CDM
3 months ago
Reply to  Jason

They’ve made a mockery of women and all the progress we have made in sports by allowing this to continue. It must end.

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Lily
3 months ago

Regarding recent disclosures that Thomas is exposing his male genitals in the locker room – why has stripping in front of naked men become a requirement for women participating in collegiate sports? This is NCAA sanctioned sexual abuse. The coach that has turned a blind ear to the concerns of the women who have complained to him regarding Thomas’ indecent exposure should be prosecuted.

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Mom
3 months ago
Reply to  Lily

Completely agree.

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Tatiana
3 months ago

Totally agree with the petition as a scientist and a mom of 2 boys swimmers. Years of pre and post puberty development (height, skeletal, muscle, heart and lungs capacities and more) cannot be normalised to fe mail level by any suppression. They should compete in their own category.

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Allison
3 months ago

Transgender women should not compete in women’s sports at all. How would trans women feel if they had their own category but non-trans males could compete against them? I’m sure they would object.

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Janice Ramer
3 months ago

This is a no brainer! Ridiculous that NCAA basically said nothing !!

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Anonymous
3 months ago

Have a separate category for non biological male/female category or at least biological females only in female events.

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Kent Burke
3 months ago

This is insane. I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman or not. The fact is that he’s not one and therefore should not be allowed to compete against women – this is disrespectful to every woman athlete.

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Kathy Silvaroli
3 months ago

Completely unfair. I agree.

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Ron S
1 month ago

It’s obvious that transgender competing in women’s swimming is unfair to women. Why can’t transgender compete with other transgender? They can still swim but have a separate category.