By Ashlee Kendell
When I was in high school, basketball was my life and I spent a lot of time perfecting and honing those skills. To improve our game, my coach had the girl’s team scrimmage the high school boys during practice. The boys were faster and stronger and my coach knew that playing against them would push us. At the same time, he knew they could overpower us and he didn’t want us to feel deflated and defeated, so he would ask them to hold back just a little.
Physically, men and women are very different. Men tend to be more muscular, have a larger frame, and have less body fat. They also have larger hearts and greater oxygen-carrying capacity. Speed and agility are different as well. The fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, ran the 100-meter dash in 9.58 seconds. The fastest woman in the world, Florence Griffith-Joyner, ran the 100-meter dash in 10.49 seconds. For a woman to qualify for the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, she must run it in at least 11.15 seconds, whereas for a man to qualify, he must run it in at least 10.05 seconds.
At a committee meeting in Utah, where delegates met to discuss the HB302, titled Preserving Sports for Female Students, Representative Casey Snider said, “In high school as a mediocre athlete on the men’s side, I would’ve qualified as a woman in the Olympic trials. In college, as a middle-of-the-pack athlete, I would have had a record as a woman that would still stand on the books today.” To prove his point, here are some examples of trans female athletes throughout the world that have been allowed to participate in women’s sports.
When men compete against women
In 2018, ABC News reported on two transgender females who were on a track and field team in Connecticut. These two athletes, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood were born males. Miller transitioned before tenth grade, while Yearwood transitioned just before starting ninth grade. Between the two of them, they have won 15 state titles for women’s track and field. A lawsuit is currently ongoing after three female athletes sued the state for allowing these two transgender girls to compete in women’s sports, saying that it violates Title IX.
In Brazil, a transgender athlete named Tifanny Abreu plays for a women’s professional volleyball league. She was previously a male who played for the European professional volleyball league until, at the age of 27, she transitioned to female. After gender-affirming surgery, Tifanny, now 33, returned to the volleyball court and has become one of the top-ranked players in the women’s league, scoring the highest number of points a game on average in 2017. In January of 2018, she beat the record for total points scored in a single game that was set by Brazil’s Tanadara Caixeta. Before Tifanny joined the league, Tanadara was at the top of the leaderboard and was easily one of the best players in the league.
Another example comes from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire where CeCé Telfer runs for the women’s track and field team. CeCé left the Division II men’s track and field team in January of 2018, after competing for three years, and returned as a woman in October 2019. That year, she became the NCAA Division II Champion for the women’s 400m hurdles. As a man, CeCé ran the 400m hurdles in 57.34 seconds, and in 2016 and 2017, she was only ranked 200th and 390th in that specific race. Fast forward to 2019, and she is now a National Champion, winning the race with a time of 57.53 seconds, 0.19 seconds slower than her fastest time as a male, with the second-place time coming in at 59.21 seconds. What wasn’t even considered a noteworthy time as a male has won her a title as a female.
Many states don’t agree with this so they are pushing to ban transgender females from participating in women’s sports while facing much opposition. Last year, Idaho was the first to sign their bill into law, but it was quickly challenged by a federal judge who temporarily suspended it. However, as of March 9, 2021, 25 states have introduced bills during this year’s legislative sessions that will be taking a stand against transgender females participating in women’s sports.
Tennessee, Alabama, and Montana have passed bills in one chamber and are waiting for the decision of the other. Arkansas and Missouri will have bills that will be put to a vote in 2022. The Kansas Senate voted 24-10 to pass their bill and it’s now going to the House. However, Governor Kelly promised to veto the bill if it did pass both the Senate and the House, stating that the proposed ban was “regressive.” In Mississippi, starting on July 1, the Mississippi Fairness Act will require athletes to compete based on their natal sex. Additionally, Florida and Utah have introduced bills to ban transgender women from women’s sports and North Dakota’s House passed their bill doing the same. Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma are also adding their names to the list.
In South Dakota, the Senate passed the Women’s Fairness in Sports bill which was to be signed by Governor Kristi Noem who said that the bill was aimed at “defending women’s sports.” However, she vetoed the bill out of concern for lawsuits and fear that the bill would “take the state’s colleges and universities out of compliance with national rules.” She instead issued two executive orders, one to protect the fairness of K-12 athletics, and a second to protect fairness in college athletics.
What happened in South Dakota is a perfect example of the lawsuits Governors are dealing with when it comes to banning transgender females from competing in women’s sports. Another hurdle to cross is that the American Civil Liberties Union has “vowed to challenge any anti-transgender student-athlete law that is passed” and claim that bills “attacking” trans youth have no chance of passing in the U.S. House. Whether or not that is true, the people are speaking up and fighting for women’s sports and for women and girls everywhere who want to compete fairly in the sport that they love. We as women are worth the risk and worth the lawsuits.
Fair and just sports
Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, recently spoke about the impact of biological men competing in women’s sports to a Senate Committee. She stated, “If your daughter or granddaughter was the top high school tennis player in her state, and then five biological boys suddenly decided, at the age of 17, to identify as female — should she drop overnight to number 6? Should she lose her college scholarship to a male-bodied athlete who would never have qualified on the boys’ team? Does that strike any member of this Committee as fair or just?”
Sports are an important outlet and pursuit for many women. I know they were for me. They taught me leadership, teamwork, responsibility, competitiveness, and most of all, confidence. Without basketball, I wouldn’t be who I am today. If men are allowed to compete on women’s teams, women will begin to withdraw from the athletics that they have been fighting for since Title IX was passed in 1972. That is not right, fair, or just and we should not be going backward, but forwards. It would be robbing women and girls of the opportunity to succeed, receive scholarships, and chase their dreams. As a female athlete, I am saying no. Now is the time for you to do the same.