The recent unfair policies implemented by the NCAA, the Ivy League, and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) have dealt a crushing blow to women’s rights, erasing decades of advancements and protections. Suddenly, hard-won opportunities for women, like Title IX, have been lost at the mantle of radical gender theory. Female athletes are left to compete in what ESPN commentators called a “race for second” against biological men in a women’s competition.
Lia Thomas, a male who identifies as a woman, is a member of the Penn women’s swim team after swimming on the Penn men’s team for three years. Thomas followed NCAA regulations and has gone through testosterone suppression treatments for a year in order to compete as a woman. What few seem willing to acknowledge is that Thomas has had the advantage of 22 years of testosterone, meaning, Thomas remains biologically male. (This is not even to mention that studies have proven men still have a significant biological advantage over women even without the benefits of testosterone.)
At the Ivy League Championships at Harvard University, women’s names on record boards were replaced by Thomas and women were displaced from the elite levels of competition. Unsurprisingly, Thomas dominated and even earned the “High Point Swimmer of the Meet” award.
READ MORE — Emily Kreps: University of Pennsylvania versus reality
In the 500 freestyle, Penn junior Bridget O’Leary was kept out of the top eight in the A final. O’Leary was only .21 of a second off of getting into the top eight, but didn’t make it because of Thomas. The ESPN announcers offered little consolation to O’Leary in their commentary: “Hey, you get to top a podium so to speak. You don’t get to sit on a podium winning the B final, but you feel like it, you touched the wall first.”
The new normal is that women are left to settle for feeling like they’re atop a podium to prioritize a man’s feelings about his gender in a women’s sport. So much for equality in a sport ESPN announcers describe as a field “where you really do get to put in the work and see the results” (unless you’re born a female).
Even more humiliating for the female swimmers, the announcers noted: “You can see the … powerful stroke of Lia Thomas where there isn’t a whole lot of movement in her legs…. It’s a much quieter stroke even though it’s more powerful than a lot of these other swimmers right now.”
Why was Thomas more powerful? Could it be because Thomas is a biological male swimming against women?
Identities don’t play sports. Bodies do.
What does that say to the next generation of female athletes? You can work hard, train hard, excel, and maybe you can hope for second, third, or fourth — but never first. You may not even make it to the podium — but not for lack of training. You’re behind before you even start when forced to compete against men.
In the finals, Thomas easily won with “a commanding lead,” while at the other end of the pool, the seven women were starting their final length. Thomas “cruised to victory” with over seven seconds, securing a new pool record. The previous record was held by Kate Zeigler in 2007, but her name has been replaced. Penn sophomore Catherine Buroker came in second, as will most women now that biological males are allowed to compete against them.
Let’s say their names so that no one forgets these women whose achievements have been sacrificed at the altar of radical gender ideology. In the women’s 200 freestyle, Yale junior Raime Jones was shut out of the top eight, and Harvard junior Samantha Shelton was forced to settle for second place. Shelton was also denied a place in the top eight in the 100 freestyle. Miki Dahlke’s 200 freestyle 2018 pool record, 2022 meet record, and 100 freestyle pool record have all been replaced by Thomas. In the 100 freestyle, the 2019 meet record set by Bella Hindley is gone.
Legacy media won’t cover this story. They won’t talk about the women who have spent countless hours excelling in their sport, only to be shut out because athletic officials won’t tell a man he can’t participate in women’s sports. It is up to you and me to share these stories and to proclaim the truth: women shouldn’t be forced to compete against men, no matter how they identify.
Identities don’t play sports. Bodies do.
Parents, athletes, coaches, and all concerned citizens need to step up and speak out against this injustice, despite the significant social pressure designed to silence us. National groups like the Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood are actively working against women’s rights with the media and academia in full support. Don’t let them hold us back.
We refuse to be erased. We will never settle for second place.
Emily Kreps serves as the legal assistant of the Pennsylvania Family Institute and a former collegiate swimmer.