Women deserve equality of opportunity: We must support biological female athletes

Mansplainers are missing the biggest takeaway from the women’s basketball final ratings crushing the men’s games. It’s not that it was made possible on the backs of unicorn athletes. I’ve long had faith in the appeal of female athletes. Women’s gymnastics has been the most watched sport in the summer Olympics for decades.

While the rest of the nation wakes up to the unmet potential of women’s sports on their own merits, they should realize that the culture of negligence towards women athletes continues, and worse, we are under attack. Women’s scholarships are being lost, athletic team roster spots are disappearing at the highest level of sport and women’s safety is being put at risk. And it’s all in the name of false inclusion. 

But policies making transgender identified male athletes eligible to compete in women’s sports are based on a lie — that there is no difference between male and female bodies; that males are not stronger and faster than women. If we carry this lie through to its conclusion, there will be no sex-based categories in sports. 

This issue should not be controversial. It should not be partisan. But it has become so. Trans activists claim that allowing trans identified males in women’s sports must be done in the name of kindness and that it involves such a small number of athletes that it can’t possibly make a difference.

They are wrong. It does make a difference. There are too many examples to count (nearing 600) of trans athletes competing — and winning — in women’s sports. And sometimes injuring women in basketball, volleyball and rugby.

Young women who watch this unfairness play out will eventually walk away from their sport. Why would they bother to compete when they know they are likely to lose? This cannot be allowed to happen. Women have fought too hard for recognition, respect and a fair playing field.

Politically, though, standing up can be a dangerous game. If you stand up for women in women’s sports, you are going to be smeared as a transphobe. A small group of very vocal and bullying activists have made it a point to shut down any talk of women being treated fairly. 

In the House of Representatives, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act generally maintains the integrity of athletic programs for women and girls, defined as biological sex at birth.

Specifically, the bill reinforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs, including in public elementary and secondary schools and in colleges and universities. Under the bill, sex is based on an individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth. Because that is the truth.

The only members of Congress who supported this bill are Republicans. Not one Democrat voted for this bill. This enrages me as a lifelong Democrat and a former NOW intern. This bill is simple commonsense and should be widely supported regardless of political party.

The same legislation is in the Senate, supported only by Republicans. As Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said “I know the Democrats, at least Democrats that have daughters, that have granddaughters; they don’t believe this, but they’re following the party line. And this is not about politics,” said Tuberville. “This is about right and wrong.”

After all, 51 Senate Democrats voted to block the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, I join my friend Sage Steele in asking: Why has this become a political issue?

Women’s health and safety is too important to make this issue a political game. The majority of Americans agree that women’s sports need to be protected. But most are too afraid to speak up and be smeared as a bigot. 

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) proved that it is not afraid to speak up for women. In a unanimous vote, the council decided only biological female athletes will be allowed to participate in women’s sports. And the men’s category will be open to all.

The NAIA can stand up for fairness in competition, yet at higher stakes levels — like the U.S. Olympic Committee and governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and USA Boxing — are running in the other direction.

As a former national gymnastics champion and decades-long Democrat, I have decided I won’t be quiet. 

Politics are downstream from culture, and right now radical left activists use film, music and brand messaging to slip in a legislative agenda insulting normal women like me. 

I’m loyal to principle not party. And the truth matters more than anything. 

The truth is men and women are different. And women deserve safety, fairness and privacy. Women deserve equality of opportunity. Women deserve to compete. And women deserve the chance to win. 

Jennifer Sey is an American author, filmmaker, business executive, and champion gymnast and the founder and CEO of XX-XY Athletics.

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