Transgender athlete debate full of innocence

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas made history on March 18 as she won the women’s Division I national title in the 500 yard freestyle event. Thomas is the first known transgender woman to win a Division I title.

The victory led to a national conundrum, with several feminist groups feeling that the swimmer’s ability to compete violated title nine and put biologically female competitors at a disadvantage. Others argue that there is no reason that Thomas, who has had hormone treatment and identifies with the female sex, should be suppressed out of the ability to compete in a sport that she has put so much into.

The debate that I’ve seen presents a grapple between facts over feelings and feelings over facts, with the anti side arguing with dramatic logic and the pro side arguing with far too much pathos. While I don’t have the answer, I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions on each side and that both sides should at the very least be able to feel sympathetic and understanding towards the other.

The advocates for biological women in this debate tend to exaggerate the iniquity of the situation and I feel that it should be understood that there is a huge discrepancy between Lia Thomas competing against biological women and any random man doing so. 

The NCAA is not going to be throwing men into the pool who claim to identify as women as many ignorant people seem to suggest. Lia Thomas did not just say “I’m a woman”  and then was allowed to compete in women’s swimming. Thomas has gone through hormone treatment that has taken away much of her testosterone and does not possess the masculine strength that she once did. 

In fact, Thomas has failed to “dominate,”  as many claim she will all the time, on many occasions. Unlike an athlete with the hormonal make of a man, who would foreseeably demolish women in competitive events, transgender women who have undergone this type of treastment are not as considerably advantaged. These transgender women have given up this competitive strength that they once had and if they were to compete against men, they would be crushed.

In short, people need to understand that the allowance of transgender women to compete in women’s athletics by the NCAA is not the most unbelievable of unbelievable “woke” moves to push a liberal agenda. 

While I am not at all saying I agree with it, it’s not an easy decision of whether or not men should be allowed to choose whether they want to compete against men or women. It’s the tough decision about whether athletes like Lia Thomas should be forced to give up their swimming careers over what may or may not be a small advantage. Where is Thomas supposed to compete? Can transgender women like her have a place to compete at all, or are they stuck? 

There is an emotional side to this argument that matters a lot when it comes to empathy and wanting everyone to enjoy the freedoms to the pursuit of happiness that this country boasts.

Then there’s the people who see no problem with transgender women competting evenly with biological women. 

Despite hormone treatment this and that, it is foolish to think that women aren’t physically disadvantaged over men in other ways. 

Look at swimming, since it’s a hot topic.

When young men and women go through adolescence, there are significant differences in development. Long story short, while men become more agile and competitively able, women are hit with a double whammy as their chests become bigger and their hips become wider. In their new shape, they, in a way, have to relearn how to swim. This is a huge setback for biological women that transgender women did not have to face. 

Plain and simple, it isn’t entirely fair. There’s a reason that women’s right advocates who are transgender advocates alike have stood up for biologically female athletes on this issue. The answer is not just to let people compete where they want because there is undeniably some form of discrepancy between Lia Thomas and other female athletes. While there is not necessarily an unbelievable advantage in strength, women are forced to compete with someone who had perhaps an easier time physically than they did.

Women’s athletics exist because women deserve a level playing field. If women were forced to compete with men under the premise that “we’re all the same,”  very few women, if any at all, would ever be able to succeed athletically or hold revered athletic careers. Women biologically can not match men in an athletic setting, so creating a division to two groups – women’s sports and men’s sports – ensures that women are given a fair shot to compete and excel in this way.

Allowing transgender women to compete does to an extent jeopardize this, and if rules become looser, fairness towards women is furtehr in peril.

But this isn’t to say that there isn’t an argument for both sides.

I think that we should all feel sympathetic towards people like Lia who are caught in this mess of a situation and who wish to compete in the sport that they love despite finding themselves unable to identify with the sex they were born with. I think that, at the very least, we should all agree that we should be empathetic towards all people involved in this debate.

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