February 25, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) held a national press call featuring top competitive female athletes, including a 3x Olympian, and federal and state lawmakers who have sponsored legislation to protect female athletes.
Inga Thompson, a three-time Olympic cyclist who competed at the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics, recounted her experiences competing in a sport that had once been dominated by men and the new threat to female athletes if biological males are allowed to compete against biological females.
“When I first started racing my bicycle, I was the only woman in my state competing,” Thompson said. “I raced with the men and I helped build our sport for women. Because of the grassroot[s] efforts of Title IX, more women started racing, and our sport is flourishing now. I believe the time has come for us to help embrace a new protective category for transgender athletes.”
Decorated college track athletes Selina Soule and Linnea Saltz also discussed their experiences losing to biological male track athletes in high school. Soule missed qualifying for the New England track and field regionals by two spots in her top event. Those two spots were taken by transgender runners who were born male.
“I was fortunate enough to find a spot on a college track team, but I worry about how many girls had their dreams destroyed just because they had to run against a biological male and lost,” Soule said. “I don’t want any other girl to experience the pain and heartbreak I had to go through during my four years of high school. I am fearful that I will have to experience this in collegiate track and field as well.”
Several states, including Mississippi, are passing legislation that will protect female athletics. Mississippi State Senator Angela Hill—who sponsored the “Mississippi Fairness Act”—spoke about the need for other states to stand up and adopt similar legislation to protect fair competition and female athletic opportunities.
“Every male on the podium erases the dream of a deserving girl,” Sen. Hill said. “A male’s belief about his gender does not erase his physical advantages over female athletes. The message to girls if we do nothing is, ‘You deserve equal opportunities, except in sports.’”
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who led 13 of his colleagues in introducing the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act,” expressed his concern about diminishing 50 years of women’s progress in sports by allowing biological males to compete against and on women’s sports teams.
“Make no mistake—the efforts that some people are making in this area are really nothing short of an all-out assault that seeks to end women’s sports,” said Sen. Lee. “I don’t know of any other way to put it. I don’t know any other way to interpret that. When what they are saying is that someone who was born male and has even gone through puberty as a male can decide through his own volition to identify as female, that is an end to women’s sports.”
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center and lawyer, explained the legal background when it comes to gender identity. Forty-nine years ago, Congress passed Title IX to expand opportunities for women and girls in education, including school athletics. Since then, there has been an explosion in women’s sports participation.
“Requiring biological girls to compete with and against athletes who were born male undermines the very purpose of another antidiscrimination law, Title IX,” Braceras said. “Unfortunately, that progress is now at risk. It is at risk from athletic associations, like Connecticut’s, that allow transgender athletes who were born male to participate in women’s sports without restriction—meaning without surgery and without hormones. Female athletic progress was placed in further jeopardy last year by the United States Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, which addressed discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, the reasoning of Bostock is so broad that, as Independent Women’s Forum predicted, it is now being applied to Title IX and used by lower courts to require women’s teams to include male-bodied athletes. But it goes far beyond that. Based on the Bostock court’s reasoning, it may not be long before we see non-transgender male athletes seeking spots on teams such as field hockey, and in some places volleyball, where schools offer no male analogue.”
To listen to the full audio or read the transcript from the press call, click HERE.
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