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NOW YOU KNOW: Public opinion says we should protect women’s sports

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The following is an op-ed piece from Delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki.

Competitive sports have been binary for a reason. Allowing biological men to compete against biological women is unfair and can even be dangerous. Competitive sports must be based on Biological Sex, not Gender Identity. The United States has made great strides in promoting women’s sports since Title IX revolutionized our country over 50 years ago. Ignoring this would set us back for almost half a century for women’s rights. We would be discouraging females to participate in sports because of having to compete against biological men and strip them of their pride.

Female athletes have fought too long and too hard for equal athletic opportunity to let that happen. The average male is bigger, faster, and stronger than the average female. In fact, males who suppress testosterone and use feminizing hormones do not mitigate male biological advantage. Dr. Emma Hilton PhD recently published a study in 2021 that shows that males retain significant strength and cardio-pulmonary benefits even 14 years after transition treatments (on average a 20% advantage over females). In October 2022, Dr. Carole Hooven PhD from Harvard was featured on Dr. Phil sharing her research that “There is NO scientific evidence to support males competing in the women’s category, regardless of suppression and intervention.”

But it is not just the top male athletes who can beat the world’s best females: Tennis player Serena Williams is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Yet, in 1998, the 203rd-ranked men’s player, Karsten Braasch, beat both Serena and her sister Venus.

Recent national polling shows the public wants to protect women’s sports by ensuring that only biological women can compete against women and use women’s locker rooms. Competitive sports allow girls to earn scholarships, medals, and records. Fairness and safety are jeopardized when biological men are allowed to compete in these elite competitions. We’ve seen girls lose at the podium and also opportunities for collegiate athletics because biological men have taken their medals.

In a recent national Gallup poll, 69% of people said that athletes should be allowed to play on sports teams that match their birth gender. This is up by seven percentage points from 2021. And only 26% of those polled believe that biological males should be allowed to compete on women’s teams; this is down from 34% when asked in 2021. The public is moving strongly towards protecting women’s sports.

On April 20, 2023, the U.S. House passed the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act by a vote of 219-203. And last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee also held hearings on transgender sports. National figure Riley Gaines, a swimmer forced to compete against Lia Thomas, a biological male, offered strong testimony to lawmakers in collegiate swimming. “In addition to being forced to give up our awards and our titles and our opportunities, the NCAA forced me and my female swimmers to share a locker room with Thomas, a 6’2”, 22-year-old male, equipped with and exposing male genitalia,” said Riley Gaines in her passionate testimony.

A high school girl in California lost to a biological boy in skiing this year. Four Connecticut track athletes have a lawsuit working through the courts saying that allowing males to compete in the girl’s category creates an unfair playing field and violates Title IX. Lead plaintiff, Chelsea Mitchell, says, “I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two male runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again. That’s a devastating experience. It tells me that I’m not good enough; that my body isn’t good enough; and that no matter how hard I work, I am unlikely to succeed because I’m a woman.”

The movement to Save Women’s Sports includes women from all walks of life and political persuasions. The Women’s Liberation Front (WOLF), Independent Women’s Forum, Save Women’s Sports, Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), and other groups are working nationwide to protect women’s sports. Last week was the 51st anniversary of Title IX legislation that guarantees women and girls the right to equal athletic opportunities. Some are asking Congress to pass a joint resolution officially establishing National Women’s Sports Week.

At least 21 states have passed legislation protecting girls’ sports in K-12 for biological girls, and more than 30 states have seen legislation introduced. Delegate Kathy Szeliga vows to introduce the Save Women’s Sports bill once again. Szeliga’s bill (2023 HB359) limits JV and Varsity high school sports teams to biological women. It is silent on recreational sports and collegiate sports. We must ensure girls have every opportunity for fairness, safety, as well as access to higher-level competition, and Delegate Szeliga’s bill will do that.

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