More than 300 current and former college and professional female athletes signed a July 29 letter to the NCAA urging it to reject calls for a boycott of Idaho due to a new law that protects the integrity of women’s sports.
At issue is the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, an Idaho law that requires biological sex – and not gender identity – to be used in determining who plays on high school and college teams. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the NCAA to boycott Idaho, saying the law harms transgender athletes.
A coalition known as Save Women’s Sports supports the Idaho law and is urging the NCAA not to take action. On July 29, Save Women’s Sports sent a letter to the NCAA signed by more than 300 current and former professional, Olympic and collegiate female athletes, including Olympic gold medalist swimmer Donna de Varona and bronze medalist cyclist Jennifer Wagner-Assali.
In Connecticut, two transgender athletes who are biologically male but identify as females won 15 state track titles.
The letter urges the NCAA not to give in to “bullying tactics” that are “antithetical to the NCAA values of respect, fairness, and civility.”
“Fairness for female athletes should not be a political or partisan issue,” the letter says. “We athletes have diverse views on many topics, but stand united on this fact: protecting the integrity of women’s sports is pro-woman, pro-fairness, and consistent with the purpose and promise of Title IX.
“... We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to compete, but true athletic parity for women demands that women’s sports be protected for biological females. Protecting the integrity of women’s sports has, for decades, played an integral role in remedying past discrimination against women and empowering them to achieve their full athletic potential.”
Biological males, the letter says, have “innate physiological advantages over females.”
“Team USA sprinter Allyson Felix holds the most World Athletics Championship medals in history,” the letter says. “Yet in 2018 alone, 275 high school boys ran faster times in the 400-meter on 783 occasions. Even the world’s best female Olympic athletes would lose to literally thousands of male athletes – including those who would be considered second tier in the men’s category – on any given day. Testosterone suppression does not undo these physiological advantages. We do not want to watch our athletic achievements be erased from the history books by individuals with all the inherent athletic advantages that come from a male body.”
De Varona, a Title IX pioneer and a signer of the letter, said athletes who “want to compete as transgender male-to-female athletes should be accommodated in a more creative, open, or separate category.”
Beth Stelzer, the founder of Save Women’s Sports and a powerlifter, said Americans “don't need to be especially political or religious to believe that women’s sports should only be for adult biological females.”
“Common sense and science tell us that men and women are different,” Stelzer said. “Because of those differences, girls and women deserve the opportunity to compete, bond, train, suffer and enjoy victory without the presence of male bodies in their competitions or locker rooms.”
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Chng/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.