Is It Time to End Women’s Sports?

Kiera Van Ryk, the 2018 U SPORTS Rookie of the Year, just keeps adding to her impressive numbers
Kiera Van Ryk, the 2018 U SPORTS Rookie of the Year, just keeps adding to her impressive numbers

By Jim Mauro

THUNDER BAY – OPINION – Back in 1972, the US government instituted Title 9, where the goal was to improve the participation of women in countless segments of society. This made the future for young girls, far better than it had been for their mothers and grandmothers.

Sports was a beneficiary of Title 9. A quick search of the internet revealed the following:

“..Title IX is most famous for its impact on expanding opportunities for women and girls in sports. In 1972, there were just over 300,000 women and girls playing college and high school sports in the United States…

By 2012…, the number of girls participating in high school sports nationwide had risen tenfold, to more than 3 million. More than 190,000 women were competing in intercollegiate sports—six times as many as in 1972. By 2016, one in every five girls in the United States played sports… Before passage of Title IX, that number had been one in 27.”

I am sure many of you had daughters that enjoyed participating in organized sports and achieved higher education levels due to scholarships. This year we have seen the incredible success of the Professional Women’s Hockey League. But returning to our “progressive and inclusive society”, are women’s sports needed anymore as some sports bodies do not have an issue with who can compete against women.

Now I realize the progressive left will be firing off missiles in my direction, but we cannot avoid discussing issues out of fear of the keyboard warrior. I am of course speaking about the willingness and in fact the demands that individuals born biologically as a male, be allowed to compete against women in a variety of sports.

Lia Thomas is a transwoman who as a male was competing against other men in the sport of swimming. Some of her times in men’s events were as follows:

Thomas recorded a time of eight minutes and 57.55 seconds in the 1,000-yard freestyle that ranked as the sixth-fastest national men’s time,

Thomas recorded 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle times that ranked within the national top 100.

On the men’s swim team in 2018–2019, Thomas finished second in the men’s 500, 1,000, and 1,650-yard freestyle at the Ivy League championships in 2019.

During the 2018–2019 season, Thomas recorded the top UPenn men’s team times in the 500 free, 1000 free, and 1650 free, but was the sixth best among UPenn men’s team members in the 200 free.  (information obtained by Wikipedia)

By any metric, Thomas was a good athlete that could compete at a reasonably high level but perhaps never at an elite level. Thomas then identified as transgender and her last year competing against men was 2020. In 2021 she began competing against women. Due to her physical transformation, Thomas did lose muscle mass and strength that saw her times increase versus her times swimming as a man. Nothing suggests that Thomas was transitioning simply to compete against women.

However, my question is a simple one: if there are not biological differences between men and women when it came to sports, then why was it ever necessary to have a separate category for women? It would suggest that the impact of Title 9 was unnecessary when it came to sports. All along, women should have been competing directly against men. That requires society and sports bodies to ignore what many believe is obvious; overall men are stronger than women and have other physical advantages that make head-to-head competition, problematic.

Serena Williams is likely the greatest female tennis player ever. She was ranked number one in her sport for over three years, and over 300 weeks in total. Andy Murray, a very good men’s player was ranked number three for a total of 41 weeks. Williams won twenty-three Grand Slam titles; Andy Murray won three. Compared to male tennis players like Borg, Agassi, Connors, Djokovic, Nadal, Sampras, McEnroe, and Federer, Murray’s record would have him at that bottom of that group.

In an interview, Serena Williams was asked to compare a match between herself and Murray. Williams stated that she would be lucky to win a game given his obvious physical advantages. Williams was putting voice to a taboo subject of women athletes versus men. Acknowledging that does not make one phobic.

Returning to Thomas, how did she fair in her sport now that she was competing as a woman. Again, using Wikipedia as the source, this is what was revealed.

The March 2022 NCAA championship was Thomas’s last college swimming event. By the conclusion of Thomas’s swimming career at UPenn in 2022, her rank had moved from 65th on the men’s team to 1st on the women’s team in the 500-yard freestyle, and 554th on the men’s team to fifth on the women’s team in the 200-yard freestyle. According to the swimming data website Swimcloud, Thomas was ranked 36th among female college swimmers in the United States for the 2021–2022 season.

In June of 2022, the group that regulates swimming competitions, put limits on the ability of transwomen to compete and would prevent Thomas from competing in the Olympics. Thomas has begun a legal challenge to these rules, but it is hard to argue that Thomas’s ranking had risen dramatically. Do we chock up that meteoric rise in the rankings to training?

For the sake of this article, let us assume that Thomas is successful in her legal challenge and is allowed to compete in the Olympics. Would that not suggest that some other female competitor will not make the team? And if so, can we debate the merits of this policy?

In March of last year, a bearded male self identified as a female and was allowed to compete in a woman’s power lifting competition. In the bench press, this “competitor” beat the previous record set by a transwoman by 100 pounds. That same transwoman had won 8 of the last 9 competitions she had entered. Is this the “fair and equitable” society that the progressives are pushing for? Biological women had virtually no chance to compete against a transwoman. How on earth do they compete against a self-identifying woman? There is believed to have been far more to this story.

The USA Boxing Federation, with some restrictions, is allowing transwomen to compete in the women’s category. Boxing is not swimming. People will get hurt. Does it make sense to have people born male compete in such a sport against women? For me, this defies logic.

In Ontario, a 50-year-old male professor, self identified as a teen girl and swam in a competition against teen girls. Why was this allowed? This individual changed in the same change room as the other girls, some as young as 8. Reports had parents putting up towels around the room to give the other girls some privacy. Is this really the society we are fighting to create? Is the individual’s desire the only priority? And why didn’t these parents just simply pull their daughters from the competition instead of letting this situation exist?

I cannot claim to have a clue about what people with gender dysphoria (a clinical term) experience when they feel like they are in the wrong body. My compassion does go out to them, but my compassion stops when the “rights” of the individual are placed above those of others which is how I view what is happening. When did swimming become a right? When did competing in whatever sport an individual wishes to compete in, take precedence over the rights of others. Is it far-fetched to suggest that Brooke Henderson, arguably Canada’s most accomplished golfer may have to compete against men on the women’s tour? Again, what is the point of women sports then?

If you dare to question this policy, the social media outrage normally follows. And where exactly is the limit to this policy? We had the usual folks screaming at the Alberta Premier for her introduction of laws governing transgender issues that are far to large in scope for this article. But is anyone surprised that someone is saying, “I don’t agree”, or “this has maybe gone too far”.  I am not commenting on the merits of the policy, but I am not surprised that some in power will disagree.

Some have suggested that a solution to this is to have a transgender division in sports while others suggest one biological female division and everyone else in an open division. Those transitioning would suggest that competing in the women’s division is the only acceptable position.

Over the years I have watched people expand their expectations of what a right is. “I have the right to say what I want”. No, you don’t. Privately run companies can set whatever standards they wish. We even have laws that prevent you from yelling fire in a theatre. Those are free speech limitations. People believe they have the right to drive. No, you have the privilege to drive. So, when did competing in sports become a right?

Are people fine with weightlifting records being broken by transwomen that will likely never be matched by those born female. Is this really supporting women’s sports or is it ending women’s sports? I would argue the latter. Because if sports governing bodies wish to support this belief, then make everyone compete in one category.

Lia Thomas wishes to compete in the Olympics. What person, born female is not going to make the team because Thomas can swim faster than she can? Locally, does the 16-year-old biological girl not make the Triple A Queens because we are a more inclusive society now? And are you okay if that girl who didn’t make it, is your daughter or your niece?

People by and large are compassionate. They would be willing to support individuals in their quest to live their life in the body they wish but that support diminishes greatly when there are no limitations in that accommodation. Many feel the same but are hesitant to speak out. We should never be afraid to discuss these types of issues because someone with a keyboard may become outraged.

In December of this past year, the women’s number 57th ranked tennis player ended up playing the men’s 1145th ranked player due to a woman pulling out of the final. The result saw the man win 7-6, 6-2. Are we allowed to speak about the obvious disparity, or do we need to go on pretending that there are not biological differences between men and women that cannot simply be eliminated by needles and pills.

There are many good reasons why allowing trans athletes to compete in sports is good for the individual physically and psychologically. Trans individuals have a greater risk of self harm, feel ostracized from society, and rarely see positive illustrations of themselves. For them, being accepted into sports provides them with experiences that can help shape their lives in many positive ways. Few would argue against providing these individuals with as many positive paths to a good life as possible. But can it be done in such a fashion that is fair and balanced for everyone? That is a much harder process.

A quick online search revealed 23 transwomen athletes that have competed and won in major sporting events from regional to state championships. The same search revealed one transman who has made a college sports team. How do we balance the competing interests of trans people with the interests of those individuals, almost always women. This is not a huge issue in terms of total numbers, but a fair question is, what is the acceptable number; 20, 50, 100. What number is the limit before a different decision may take place?

As society navigates these issues, countless other issues are bound to come up. In Scotland last year, a man had raped two women but had transitioned before being sentenced and was housed in a female prison. This is just one example of possible problems with these kinds of decisions. Treating people as equally as possible should always be the goal. Providing advantages to one individual or others in my view has never been and never will be a good policy on which to build a great functioning society.

These are complex issues that have in some cases excluded parents from fully participating in decisions surrounding their children. Some argue that allowing a child to enter puberty when they wish to transition only makes the entire process more difficult. Others argue that allowing children that young to make those kinds of decisions, especially without parents makes little sense. What is hard to dispute is that the number of individuals stating that they are needing/wanting to transition has exploded in recent years. It does make some wonder if these issues can be better addressed through psychotherapy. I wanted to at least outline briefly just how complex these situations are even though this article is mainly about the participation in sports. The reality however is that some of these “situations” can go beyond sports. Here are two.

To be a police officer, you must pass a physical standard that is less for women than for men. Can a male candidate who could not pass the standards for men, self identify to be measured by the female standards? If that is possible, is it a fair process?

Second, young men pay far more for car insurance than young women. If a teenager self identifies as a woman, can an insurance carrier still charge the rates for a young male or would the insurance company be accused of discrimination. Women pay less for life insurance than men. Can men now self identify and demand the cheaper premium?  Some might consider these hypothetical questions insulting. Others would simply say “what are the answers” because these are not unrealistic questions.

Once again, I have found it incredibly difficult to keep this article from being long without success. I read an article from Britain (link at the end) that had two sports scientists take the opposing views on this subject. The advocate for inclusion was a trans person but she herself indicated that the science quite possibly won’t be known for twenty years on whether transwomen can compete on a fair playing field with biological women. Despite that, she believes sports should error on the side of inclusion and not exclusion. The other contributor disagreed believing any error should be on the side of biological women until science can prove the inclusiveness approach does not create an unfair advantage.

Trans individuals deserve empathy, respect and whatever support can be provided. They should not be prevented from participating in the basic segments of society that provide the same opportunity to live a good life. But I cannot believe anyone would support a 50-year-old male “self identifying” as a teenage girl and changing with girls that are ten years old or providing unfair advantages to a few because of some ideological wish to be seen as progressive.

I do not believe that taking that position makes me or anyone else phobic. Just a thought.

Transgender athletes: What do the scientists say? – BBC Sport


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