NCAA Swimmer: ‘I Would Love to Beat Men. But There Isn’t a World Where That’s Going to Happen’
It won’t give Peyton McNabb her vision back, but North Carolina legislators are doing everything they can to protect girls like her from ever getting hurt again. After having a volleyball spiked in her face by a biological boy, McNabb says “my life has been forever changed.” Though she struggles with partial paralysis, blurred eyesight, severe headaches, and other symptoms, her governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, couldn’t care less — telling reporters that North Carolina Republicans are wasting their time on “political culture wars.”
Fortunately for McNabb and girls across the state, Cooper is very much in the minority. If he vetoes the state’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, a bipartisan bill that just landed on his desk, he will almost certainly be overridden. Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, the Tar Heels understand the risks. “Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is dangerous,” McNabb insisted at the bill’s hearing. “I may be the first to come before you with an injury, but if this doesn’t pass, I won’t be the last.”
That’s what a growing chorus of women is desperately trying to tell the Biden administration. Along with the face of the girls’ sports movement, Riley Gaines, former Harvard swimmer Abby Carr can’t believe this president is making the erasure of women the hill he’s willing to die on. Like Riley, she also swam on a Division I team who faced Lia Thomas.
Back then, Carr says, it was hard to find her voice. “I had just arrived on the team,” she explained on “Washington Watch.” “… [And as a freshman], you kind of want to shrink back and just kind of fall in line and not get a lot of attention. And I’ll admit I was apprehensive then. … I was new to the Ivy League. I felt like if I needed to make a name for myself, it was going to be in swimming. And I did. But now I understand that this is greater than me. It’s greater than the individual. This is about every female athlete. This is about the seven- and eight-year-old girls that I coach back home and the recruitment spots they’re going to [compete] for in a few years. … [N]ow, as I’ve gained confidence as both a conservative and a Christian, I know I’m ready to stand for it.”
Abby talked about the moment it became crystal clear to her that boys and girls belong on separate teams. “I started swimming when I was seven, and I’ve been racing boys as long as I can remember,” she explained. “And up until I was 12, I was beating them. When I was 12, I had the pool record in the 200 butterfly, and it was faster than the boys’ record. And then, if you look at the spreadsheets from the meet exactly a year later, it’s drastically different, because the boys were beginning to grow in a way that I wasn’t.”
“I’ll never forget,” Carr said, “my coach pulled me out of the water one practice where I was just increasingly frustrated. … And he’s like, ‘Abby, look. You’ve been beating these boys your whole life. You’re not going to beat them anymore.’ [And I] wasn’t thrilled by the implications of that. But it was obvious to me that they were physically changing in a way I wasn’t. They were getting taller. Their muscle mass was increasing. They were getting bigger. I was not. Now, if you were to look at the times from the 2022 IV championships, my time is 15 seconds slower than the time that was put up by the top male swimmer. That’s over an entire length of a pool’s worth of a difference. So yes, those differences were very apparent to me, even at the age of 13.”
She pointed out, that her disadvantage was “pretty obvious to me, even though I wasn’t an elected representative, I certainly wasn’t a member of Congress, and I wasn’t President Biden. It was very obvious to me at that point in time that I was no longer going to be competitive with men in the way I had been before puberty.”
Although Carr watched teammates lose races to Thomas, she told Hice, “my heart goes out to so many transgender athletes [who] do deal with higher mental health rates than the rest of the country. [Even so], they have inherent dignity and worth as individuals. [But] we have to then recognize the empirical reality that women’s sports are being threatened when biological males compete against women. … And that’s not a matter of identity. That’s not a matter of personality. That’s a simple blunt reality of biology.”
“I mean, I would love to beat men,” Carr admitted, “but there isn’t a world where that’s going to happen, unfortunately. And that’s not anti-feminist. That’s just me speaking the scientific truth.”
Macy Petty, an NCAA volleyball player and former Family Research Council intern, can’t believe that anyone would look at Biden’s agenda on sports as anything but unjust. She pointed out that men’s volleyball nets are over seven inches higher than the women’s, and so, when she’s played against trans-identifying girls, they not only have their inherent physical advantages, they also benefit from the different rules.
“I went around testifying [on this issue about two and a half years ago], but [at the time], the North Carolina legislature … said it was a ‘non-issue.’ They said it wasn’t happening. They said it was just being hateful. And then you have stories like Peyton [McNabb’s], where these girls are being hurt just because they won’t accept that this is happening. We’re seeing stories like Lia Thomas, where girls are losing championships and losing scholarships and losing these opportunities, but these people won’t admit that these are happening. Look around. It’s happening all around us.” And in some cases, Petty said soberly, “it’s too late.”
“But that’s the nature of sports, right?” Macy explained. “If you’re a college coach, your job is dependent on you being able to beat your opponent. And if your opponent is a biological male, you’re going to have a whole lot easier time beating that opponent if you also go out and recruit a biological male. So this is just a slippery slope, and we need to put a stop to it now before more girls get hurt.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.