Wo(men)’s sports?

Transgender inclusiveness is an affront to the fairness of sports.

Modern sports are not exempt from controversy — just consider the evolution of equipment and rules, race relations, and politics. But nothing has threatened the future of sports more than transgender integration. Allowing biological men to compete as women against women destroys the fundamental concept of what makes athletic competition, specifically women’s sports, fair. Allowing an unfair advantage to one class of participants is abhor-rent and inexcusable, delegitimizing the integrity of the competition. It is no easy task to reach the collegiate level in any sport, man or woman. I know because I was an NCAA Division I swimmer at the University of Minnesota.

I consider swimming a gift. It offered a place where I learned many of life’s lessons: being a graceful winner — and a more graceful loser — the value of hard work, perseverance, working through adversity, and team cohesion. All of these qualities helped build my character and eventually led me to a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. But if I knew the sport I loved was rigged against me in the form of obsequiousness to wokeism masquerading as fairness, I might never have participated.

The University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team has a front-row seat to what is nothing less than the consequences of denying biology for the fantasy of transgender equality in sports. Will Thomas lived and competed his whole life as a male, only identifying as a female and joining Penn’s women’s team as Lia this year. The NCAA is complicit in this anti-competition campaign and even issued a statement on transgender participation: “The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.” But there is nothing fair about it.

The NCAA, following the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), requires biological males to demonstrate that their testosterone level has been below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least one year before their first female competition. But a study published in December 2020 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that after suppressing their testosterone for two years — a year longer than NCAA and IOC guidelines — transgender women still ran 12 percent faster on average than biological females. Twelve percent may seem like a small amount, but in the world of elite athletes, in which the difference between first and second place often comes down to tenths or even hundredths of a second, a 12 percent advantage can seem unsurmountable, and it is certainly not fair.

Stocker, managing editor of Thinking Minnesota, was a member of the University of Minnesota swimming team.