Sitting on the deck of the pool, head between my legs, trying to suck in as much oxygen as I could while tears streamed down my face. The memory of finishing my last race as a competitive swimmer from over 15 years ago is still very vivid. I had finished the 1650 yard freestyle (“the mile”) in a personal best time as my friends and teammates cheered me on for each of the 66 lengths of the pool.
The opportunity to be a student athlete in college shaped the rest of my life. I made lasting friendships. I travelled. I was the most fit I have ever been in my life while pushing myself physically and mentally through daunting challenges.
But the opportunity for young women to have the same experience today is in peril.
With President Biden’s recent executive order and the so-called Equality Act making its way through Congress, the federal government is heading toward taking the joy sports away from women and girls at all levels of competition by allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports. That’s why we need a state law that would ensure biological women continue to have their own, fair sports leagues here in Pennsylvania.
Thankfully, Rep. Barb Gleim, Rep. Martina White, Rep. Dawn Keefer, Rep. Valerie Gaydos, and Rep. Stephanie Borowicz have introduced the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. This legislation will ensure that athletic teams or sports designated for women or girls will not be open to biological males who identify as trans women.
In my freshman year as an NCAA Division III athlete, there were 24 female swimmers and 18 men swimming the mile. Any one of our male distance swimmers would have been faster than all of the women had they identified as a woman. Considering the limited space on these teams, the question becomes, how many women who want to compete should we effectively ban from high school and college sports to make room for trangendered women?
How many women who want to compete should we effectively ban from high school and college sports to make room for trangendered women?
If biological men who identify as women are allowed to compete as women in sports, there is no way to know how many women will be shut out of the life-improving opportunity that being a student athlete is. Opportunities to gain leadership skills, have diverse experiences and conquer difficult challenges. Opportunities that prepare them to lead companies, run for office, and start businesses. Ninety four percent of female CEOs played competitive sports.
Women deserve a fair playing field. We fought for that right for decades. The science proves what we already know, that biological males have greater bone density, muscle mass, and cardiovascular capacity than women. These advantages continue even after men who identify as women choose to undergo hormone treatment. Most women won’t stand a chance if biological men are allowed to compete with them.
Even female athletes who never make it to the medal podium have had an equal opportunity to compete for that goal. If you’re in favor of allowing biological men to participate in women’s sports, then I ask you, how many women and girls are you willing to rob of that opportunity to compete?
Emily Kreps serves as the Legal Assistant with the Pennsylvania Family Institute.