Swimming assoc. calls for ‘Trans Division’ to save girls’ sports

NCAA Swimming
The field stays tight at the start of the women’s 800 meter freestyle final during the Conoco Phillips USA National Swimming Championships at Stanford University’s Avery Aquatic Center on August 6, 2011 in Palo Alto, California. |

The World Association of Swimming Coaches has issued a position statement on the issue of boys competing on women’s swimming teams, acknowledging that their “inclusion” in girls-only competitions “cannot be balanced with fairness”.

While emphasizing that the WSCA has “an unequivocal program for the sport of swimming to be experienced in an environment where everyone can participate in the sport and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect”, the association maintained that male athletes have an unfair advantage when competing against female athletes.

The WSCA cited the “retained differences in strength, endurance and physique that are present when comparing the average woman” and the man as justification for its position.

One of the WSCA’s “key pillars” described in the statement states that “categorization by sex at birth remains the most useful and functional division in relation to athletic performance” because “this categorization recognizes the wide range significant performance differences between the sexes. While calling on the sport of swimming to retain “traditional gender categorization – in association with age and, where relevant, disability”, the WSCA expressed an openness to “finding a model of inclusion for transgender athletes “.

“Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification in the women’s category in a gender-biased sport like swimming,” the statement continued. “The average differences in strength, endurance, and physique between the sexes are significant. Transgender women are, on average, likely to retain the physical benefits listed above even if testosterone suppression is used.

The WSCA weighed in on the idea of ​​an “open” division, where biological men who identify as women would compete with other biological men.

However, after expressing concern that “providing them with competition which is primarily to compete with biological males is becoming unfair to [trans-identified males]the WSCA has touted a “trans division” as a solution that will allow athletes of all gender identities to compete against their peers. In such a scenario, “trans women will face each other” and “trans men will face each other”, referring to trans-identified men and trans-identified women, respectively.

“There is an argument that trans men have been completely lost in this debate because they are not competitive in our current structure. This would also allow people of undetermined sex to be considered in such a solution.

The WSCA concluded its statement by suggesting two options for recategorization in competitive swimming. The first option would create a “female” category with an “open” category, while the second option would establish a “female” category alongside a “male” category and an “open” category. In either case, “participants in the contest would be required to self-identify as persons registered as female at birth.”

The discussion of trans-identified male athletes and their impact on women’s sports comes as Lia Thomas (formerly Will), a trans-identified man who once competed on the University of Pennsylvania men’s swim team, has set several records last season while competing on the Ivy League school’s women’s swim team.

Earlier this year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, one of the governing bodies overseeing collegiate athletics in the United States, adopted a policy allowing each individual sport to decide whether it allows trans-identified athletes to compete in teams that match their gender identity as opposed to their biological sex. USA Swimming, which oversees competitive swimming in the United States, unveiled a policy allowing trans-identified men to compete on the women’s swim team if they have consistently low testosterone levels.

Riley Gaines, a female athlete who finished tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle at this year’s NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship, said in an interview with Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the association had given preferential treatment to Thomas even though they had the same score: “When we finished and I went behind the podium to collect my fifth place trophy…they blatantly told me that Lia would hold the fifth place trophy and that I could pose with the sixth place trophy for photos and would receive a fifth place trophy in the mail.

When Gaines asked an NCAA official why they were giving the trophy to Thomas, he insisted the awards were given in “chronological order.” After reminding him that they were tied, Gaines said he responded by saying, “We’re just going to give Lia the trophy. We respect and admire your swimming, but Lia has to hold the trophy.”

Gaines also reiterated the injustice of women having to compete against male athletes, noting the “different lung capacities” between genders as well as disparities in height and testosterone levels.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be contacted at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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