Women’s Sports Policy Working Group Officially Launched

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Tuesday marked the launch of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, an association seeking to “protect girls and women’s sports and accommodate transgender athletes.”

The six-member working group is led by a pair of Olympic swimmers in Donna de Varona and Nancy Hogshead-Makar, both with long histories of advocacy in this sphere. The group was formed in response to the executive order passed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 20 aimed at “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.”

The Working Group has published a briefing book that explores the issues as they relate to girls’ and women’s sports. It is looking to provide “science-based recommendations” for policy makers.

The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group released this statement in announcing its founding:

“The uncompromising vitriol in public conversations regarding the participation of transgender girls and women in girls’ and women’s sports is unacceptable. One side insists that transgender girls are ‘boys’ and seeks to ban them without regard to their physical sex-linked traits. Ten states have passed such laws and there are three federal bills proposing the same. The other side insists that transgender girls are ‘girls, period’ and seeks their full and unconditional inclusion, again without regard to their physical sex-linked traits. Seventeen states have adopted this approach and the Biden Administration has suggested that it may be considering doing the same. Both extremes ignore the reasons we have sex-segregated sports, and both are unnecessarily discriminatory. The first unnecessarily discriminates against all transgender women and girls. The second discriminates against biological females in a space that was designed specifically to secure and protect their opportunities. All girls, whether they are transgender or not, have a place within a fair, safe, and respectful women’s sports environment. We ask the Biden Administration and Congress to reject ‘either/or’ positions and instead to adopt an ethical, science-based approach to the protection of girls’ and women’s sport.”

The six inaugural members of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group are:

  • Donna de Varona, a two-time Olympic gold medalist at the 1964 Games, the former president and co-founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Board of Directors
  • Martina Navratilova, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and 59-time Grand Slam champion in all disciplines
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, three-time Olympic gold medalist (including the women’s 100 free) in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where she also won silver in the 200 individual medley. Specializing in Title IX litigation, she is the CEO of Champion Women, which sponsored Tuesday’s announcement, and also a former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation
  • Donna Lopiano, a National Softball Hall of Famer who is the former CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the President of the Drake Group
  • Tracy Sundlun, a six-time Olympic coach/manager and member of the Running USA Hall of Champions, who is also a founding board member of the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation
  • Doriane Coleman, a professor of law and co-director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy at Duke Law School, who won NCAA championships and two Swiss national titles on the track

The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group’s position is supported by a number of prominent athletes, both men and women. Among those cited in the inaugural email are Olympic diver Greg Louganis and open-water swimmer Diana Nyad, as well as Champion Women, The Drake Group, National Scholastic Athletics Foundation and Wrestle Like a Girl.

Legislation has been put forth in a number of states looking to bar transgender athletes from competing against girls and women. The ostensible purpose of these bills is to preserve athletic opportunities for women’s and girls, but the working group’s objective, as put forth in the statement, is “to reject ‘either/or’ positions”.

3 comments

  1. avatar
    Linsey

    You should have noted that the working group has zero scientist or members who are transgender. Not to mention that their press conference repeatedly made unfounded and unsubstantiated claims about trans-athletes. It should have also been noted that a few of these members have been extremely problematic.

    • avatar
      Elle

      There are trans athletes, like Joanna Harper and Renee Richards, who support them. Renee Richards was also one of their coaches growing up.

  2. avatar
    Nathalie Pettus

    How can support be given to the Working Group?

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