A two-time Olympic medalist is speaking out about transgender athletes, saying in a new social media post that “it’s time to start standing up for women’s sports” and change the rules so that only biological women can compete in women’s events.
The Instagram post by American swimmer Erika Brown doesn’t mention names but comes as a collegiate transgender swimmer – Penn’s Lia Thomas – is breaking women’s swim records.
Thomas, who was born male and swam three years on the Penn men’s team, is on pace to challenge for multiple titles at the NCAA Championships March 16-19 at Georgia Tech. Thomas’ best times in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles are the fastest of any female college swimmer this year.
Brown won silver and bronze medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were held in 2021 due to the pandemic. In her social media post, she raised a concern that others have raised: NCAA rules allow transgender women to compete following one year of testosterone suppression treatment, even though such transgender women maintain many of the benefits of a male body.
Brown, a Christian, said the issue could be confronted while respecting individuals.
“I want to share something that’s been on my heart regarding what is going on in USA Swimming at the moment,” Brown wrote in an Instagram story, according to SwimSwam.com. “I believe that we are all God’s children, and we are called to love one another. I don’t want to create any hate, only speak up for what is right.
“We cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women. A biological male goes through male puberty. Even when she has transitioned, she still has the physiology of a male. A few years of testosterone blockers and estrogen doesn’t change the fact that she will have more powerful muscles, a larger heart and greater lung capacity than a biological woman.
“It’s time to start standing up for women’s sports before we lose what so many before us have fought for. I hope that this can help inspire others to speak up,” Brown concluded.
A new paper by researchers from Marquette University, Duke University and the Mayo Clinic supports Brown’s argument. The paper found about a 5 percent difference across the board between Thomas’ best times as a female compared to Thomas’ best times competing as a male. By comparison, biological men competing in elite competitions are about 10-15 percent faster than biological women in short events and 7-10 percent faster in long-distance events, the paper found.
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, chief executive of Champion Women, told The Washington Post that the NCAA needs to change its rules.
“This topic is very uncomfortable for people. They don’t understand it, and so they took the lazy way out,” Hogshead-Makar, who won four swimming medals at the 1984 Olympics, told the newspaper. “The lazy way out is saying, ‘Put them in the women’s category.’
“To blow up the women’s category is just not the answer. This makes the women’s category meaningless.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Clive Rose/Staff
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.