Outrage over Lia Thomas Fuels Latest Push to Protect Women’s Sports
If ESPN is indeed headed for layoffs, then the women of America know a good place to start: anyone involved in the decision to feature male swimmer Lia Thomas in its series on Women’s History Month. “Oh H--- NO!” CNN’s Megyn Kelly tweeted when the network included Thomas at the expense of real female athletes. “If I was a woman working at ESPN,” 12-time NCAA champion Riley Gaines said, “I would walk out. You’re spineless, ESPN.”
Gaines — who’s not only been a victim of the trans ideology in sports, but one of its earliest and loudest critics — was irate about Thomas’s inclusion, insisting that he “is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title. He is an arrogant cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman. The NCAA is responsible.” The same NCAA, she argues, that would secretly love to ban biological men from sports but doesn’t have the guts to say so publicly.
Meanwhile, this trend of displacing real women in favor of trans imposters has hit absurd heights, The Federalist’s Elle Purnell points out. “Nothing says ‘we respect women’ like elbowing them out of their own awards to laud a man who makes a mockery of womanhood,” she writes. And that’s happened multiple times over the last handful of years, Purnell explains, chronicling the long list of men who’ve “co-opted” women’s pedestals — including Rachel Levine, Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, M.J. Rodriguez, Laurel Hubbard, Ebony Harper, and Cecilia Chung.
Jenner was the first to knock a lady off the perch when Glamour Magazine gave the Olympian formerly known as Bruce its “Woman of the Year Award” in 2015. (ESPN paid its own homage, giving its annual courage award to Jenner over a double-amputee from the Iraq war.) Eight years later, the erasure of girls is like a fast-moving horror movie society can’t turn off.
And while men like Thomas argue that “trans women are not a threat to women’s sport,” that’s just another delusion he hopes the broader culture will accept. In reality, the transgender ideology isn’t just a threat to women’s sports — it’s the executioner. Just in the last few months, real females have literally quit racing because men are hijacking their wins. Champion cyclocross rider Hannah Arensman stunned the sport when she announced, “I have decided to end my cycling career. At my last race at the recent UCI Cylocross National Championships in the elite women’s category, I came in 4th place, flanked on either side by male riders awarded 3rd and 5th places…”
“My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me,” Hannah said. At the end of the day, she went on, it was difficult to think about “the very real possibility that I was overlooked for an international selection on the US team at Cyclocross Worlds in February 2023 because of a male competitor. …I feel for young girls learning to compete and who are growing up in a day when they no longer have a fair chance at being the new record holders and champions in cycling.”
Her decision seemed justified weeks later when another Thomas, a man named Tiffany Thomas, held up his hands in victory at the Randall’s Island Crit — his 20th win in just five years competing. “I’m not going to lie, sometimes it made me feel like a superhero…” he told reporters. That puts the number of titles stolen by men in professional women’s sports at more than 30, The Washington Stand’s Dan Hart counts. And, as Hart is quick to point out, those numbers don’t include “the multiple second place, third place, and other finishing spots in women’s events awarded to biological males that would have been won by biological females had the events been for biological females only.”
At least one governing body in sports — the World Athletics Council — is shutting the door on this hoax, unveiling new rules that put the kibosh on unfair, hormone-induced advantages. The consensus, the group’s president, Sebastian Coe, told reporters was simple: there “was absolutely no way that we should be including transgender athletes.” Track and field will be the main sport protected by the move, but other world famous athletes applauded the move.
Nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova insisted that “there is no way to erase that physical advantage” of men. “I think the best idea would be to have ‘biological female’ and ‘biological girls’ categories and then an ‘open’ category’ … for all-comers: men who identify as men; women who identify as women; women who identify as men; men who identify as women; non-binary — it would be a catch-all.” In the meantime, the tennis star praised more organizations for “finally waking up” to the mockery men are making of women’s empowerment.
For elite athletes like Arensman, it’s been a hard few years watching everything they’ve trained for disappear in a cloud of modern misogyny. “I have felt deeply angered, disappointed, overlooked, and humiliated that the rule makers of women’s sports do not feel it is necessary to protect women’s sports to ensure fair competition for women anymore,” she wrote in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) has been trying to right that wrong for years, reintroducing his girls’ sports protection bill for the third time this year. He hopes the controversy over Lia Thomas pushes more members of Congress to hop on board. “I’d remind your viewers,” he told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, “… ESPN is actually owned by Disney. So if you see them acting in a woke manner and doing these type of things, look no further than the policies that Disney puts in place for that. And it’s exactly what we’re fighting against.”
“Biological men should not be competing with biological women on the sports field of any sport,” he insisted on Monday’s “Washington Watch.” “That’s why Congress created Title IX many, many years ago, to combat against that and give women an equal playing field to be able to compete with other women…” Steube praised the House Education Committee for passing his bill but lamented that it was “on along party lines.” “[That] shows you where the Democrats are on this issue.”
The Florida congressman is hopeful that the proposal will get a vote on the House floor — if not this week, then in the next couple. “Every American should know where their representative stands on this very important issue, not only to the women and girls that play these athletics, but to the parents that support their children and don’t want biological men in the locker room with their biological daughters.”
As for the woke Left making heroes out of these pretenders, FRC’s Meg Kilgannon can only shake her head. “The level of self-absorption and delusion evident in these examples is staggering. One wonders what would be the personal accomplishment for a man to place in women’s events, when they are clearly physically more capable of success in sports. This drive seems to not be related to their athletic accomplishment, but making the point that the man must be accepted and acknowledged for what he can never actually be.”
This, “coupled with a fawning media ready to participate in the charade, is just the kind of ‘acceptance’ autogynophiles crave,” she said. “But all the first-place trophies in the world will never make them what they cannot be: women.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.