David Closson is Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council. This article appeared in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on March 24, 2022.
According to the NCAA, Lia Thomas is a national champion. After touching the wall first at the conclusion of the 500-yard freestyle, Thomas’s win was heralded by ESPN, The New York Times, and CNN as historic. And it’s true. Thomas’ championship-clinching swim at last week’s NCAA women’s national championship meet capped off a record-breaking season in which the University of Pennsylvania swimmer set multiple pool, school, and league records.
Of course, as most people know by now, this success has been overshadowed by the fact that Thomas (born William Thomas) is a biological male who identifies as a woman. And although Thomas’ victories have attracted national attention, few mainstream outlets or publications seem willing to discuss the danger the swimmer’s success poses to women’s sports or how this story fits within the broader trend of undermining women’s rights under the guise of LGBT rights. In short, the muted response to Thomas’ season is another reminder that many progressives are willing to sacrifice women’s rights if it means staying in the good graces of those leading the transgender revolution.
Although women’s collegiate swimming is not usually front-page news, Thomas’s story has rightfully received a fair amount of coverage over the past few weeks. Thomas, who swam for three seasons on the men’s varsity team before switching to the women’s team this season, is now recognized as one of the nation’s most accomplished woman swimmers. And in terms of swimming times and statistics, Thomas’ season really has been one for the record books.
The University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team participated in eight meets this season. In each of these meets, Thomas won at least one race and repeatedly won multiple races. At the Zippy Invitational, Thomas competed against swimmers from ten schools and won the 200, 500, and 1650-yard races. Thomas’ times of 4:34:06 (500-yard) and 15:59:71 (1650-yard) were pool, meet, and program records. At the Ivy League Championships, Thomas won the 100-yard free (a meet, pool, and program record), 200 free (a meet and pool record), and 500 free (a pool record).
In summary, in one season on the women’s team, Thomas won 19 events, three league titles, one national championship (500-yard freestyle), set multiple records, and finished the season as the top-ranked swimmer for Division I Mid-Major schools, as well as the highest-rated Ivy League and University of Pennsylvania women’s swimmer.
There are other stories besides Thomas’s collegiate swimming career that show how many progressives are willing to sacrifice opportunities and rights for women on the altar of political correctness For example, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was allowed to compete in women’s weightlifting at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, depriving a biological woman of a chance to represent her country. Last year, Kataluna Enriquez was crowned “Miss Nevada” and represented the state in the 2021 “Miss America” competition. In sports, Juniper Eastwood was the first biological male to compete in Division I women’s cross-country in 2019, and Cece Telfer was the first biological male to win an NCAA women’s title.
Outside of sports, The New York Times celebrated Amy Schneider’s run on the popular television show Jeopardy, referring to the contestant as the “most successful woman to compete on the show.” It wasn’t until later in the article that readers learned Schneider was a biological male. U.S. Today recently recognized U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine as one of its “Women of the Year.” Levine, who is a biological male, is the highest-ranking person to identify as transgender in the Biden administration. Unsurprisingly, the newspaper’s decision to recognize Levine as a “Woman of the Year” received pushback. But instead of allowing a conversation about the issue, Twitter censored and de-platformed those who disagreed with the choice, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose tweet that “Rachel Levine is a man” was blocked by the tech-giant.
In addition to biological men winning championships and receiving opportunities formerly held by or reserved for biological women, Democrat legislators are working to codify legislation like the Equality Act that would fundamentally alter women’s safety, privacy, and equality and undo civil rights gains women have made in recent decades. If passed, the Equality Act would rewrite federal civil rights laws by recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. The bill would redefine the concept of sex, what constitutes “discrimination on the basis of sex,” and privilege LGBT rights over religious freedom. By redefining sex discrimination to include gender identity, biological males who identify as women would have access to locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers historically reserved for biological women and girls.
Supporters of Lia Thomas, Rachel Levine, and the Equality Act often speak of fairness and equality. They argue that opposing the underlying logic of transgenderism amounts to bigotry and hatred. But it’s important to recognize that transgenderism is fundamentally opposed to sound biology, physiology, and genetics (as well as philosophy and Christian theology). It’s also important to see how transgender ideology is a decidedly postmodern perspective on human embodiment. Within transgenderism, emotions and subjective feelings are prioritized over biology and objective markers such as genetics and anatomy are disregarded. As a result, sex is reduced to a social construct, and what fundamentally differentiates men from women is obliterated.
But the truth about sexual differences cannot and should not be erased. Genetically, men have XY chromosomes; women have XX chromosomes — down to each and every cell. When a biological male asserts he is a woman, he asserts an objective falsehood in terms of biology and genetics. Undoubtedly, a person who identifies as transgender is experiencing acute alienation from their body that warrants the compassion of others. However, so-called “gender reassignment surgery” cannot change the fundamental reality of biological sex. While genital surgery may sterilize an individual, it cannot bestow the reproductive capacity of the opposite sex or change the underlying genetics. A person remains in their biological sex regardless of the gender with which they choose to identify.
Stand Up for Women
Although the assertion that women’s rights should be protected would have been uncontroversial only a few years ago, it is now seen as divisive and hateful even to suggest that biological males are robbing biological females of opportunities and awards. Incredibly, many progressives are in favor of accelerating this trend. But unless people are comfortable with Lia Thomas winning national championships meant for women and Rachel Levine being heralded as a pioneer for women, Americans of every background and political persuasion must be willing to stand up to gender identity ideology. If we don’t, girls today will be the first generation of women in the United States to have fewer opportunities than their mothers. We cannot let progressives erase women. It’s immoral, unjust, and unfair.