As a female athlete in Pennsylvania, I am terrified for the future of my collegiate athletic career and those of countless other women — which is why I have been fighting to get the Pennsylvania’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act across the finish line.
Anyone who pays attention to politics or sports is aware of the fundamental uncertainty regarding the future of women’s sports. It was hard to miss Lia Thomas, a biological male who captured national media attention after claiming the national title in the women’s 500 freestyle at the Division I Women’s National Swimming Championship.
While biological men like Thomas are crushing records held by women, governing sports bodies like the International Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association have refused to speak up for women and define how sports should be separated — whether by biology or by self-identifying gender.
As a female college athlete, stories like Thomas’ enrage me; and they should make those who have sisters, daughters and friends in sports question what is going on around us. Biological males, regardless of their gender identity, will always have an advantage over the women that they are allowed to compete against. Higher levels of testosterone in the male body, greater amounts of muscle mass, bone mass, and lung and air capacity, as well as other obvious physical factors like height, give an undeniable edge to a male in any type of athletic competition against women.
What happens to the scholarship money that I rely on if men start to dominate my sport? Will my school start recruiting men who identify as women, cutting me out of the program?
“[T]his rushed and heedless decision to include biological men, born and built with testosterone, with their height, their strength and aerobic capacity of men, is beyond the sphere of tolerance. It represses, embarrasses, excludes and humiliates women” said Ana Paula Henkel, a former Brazilian volleyball Olympian. Many other renowned female professional athletes, including Serena Williams, have expressed the incredibly obvious differences between men and women, and why they must be separated in sports to give female athletes a fair chance to compete.
Nobody can deny this inherent physical advantage. The fastest time by our country’s most decorated female Track and Field Olympian, Allyson Felix, would be crushed by tens of thousands of men and boys. The United States Women’s National Soccer Team — the same team that won the 2019 Women’s World Cup — played a scrimmage against an under-fifteen men’s club team in 2017, and lost the game 5-2, just two years prior to winning the most competitive professional women’s soccer tournament in the world.
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How is it a level playing field if I am forced to compete in women’s athletics against members of the opposite sex who have inherent physical advantages over me? What happens to the scholarship money that I rely on if biological men start to dominate my sport? Will my school start recruiting men who identify as women, cutting me out of the program?
This month, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to enact legislation that will uphold Title IX — a law passed 50 years ago to protect fairness for women in sports — and empower women in Pennsylvania for decades to come. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, led by five female state representatives, would ensure that women and girls are not forced to compete against anyone other than other biological women. This bill has already passed the PA House of Representatives and is now before the PA senate. I urge every Pennsylvanian to call on their state senator to vote yes on the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, for the sake of female athletes like myself. We need protection from the harm caused when biological males who identify as female compete in women’s sports.
I should never be forced to compete against anyone other than a biological female, if I ever want a fair chance at winning. Biological men and women are different, and men have inherent physical advantages over women in sports. This is both scientifically and morally obvious. The future of women’s sports depends on the acceptance of this fact.
Elizabeth Adams is a collegiate soccer player and a summer intern at the Pennsylvania Family Institute.