I have two daughters, 19 and 17 years old.

There were many factors that contributed to their adolescent years, but without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most positive was their participation in school athletics. Throughout middle school and high school, there was rarely a season when one of them wasn’t involved in at least one school-sponsored girls’ athletic team, not to mention club teams they played on during the off-season. Whether it was gymnastics, volleyball, swimming, or track, participating in sports developed parts of their social-emotional and physical health in ways that could not be found elsewhere and, undoubtedly, will continue to have an impact on their lives for many years to come.

Thank you, Title IX.

Title IX was the law passed in 1972 that finally opened up female participation in sports and athletics across the nation. Before Title IX, male athletes outnumbered female athletes 12.5 to 1. Since Title IX, female participation at the high school level has grown by 1,057% and by 614% at the collegiate level. It has made spectacular, record-breaking athletic achievements possible for women, scholarship opportunities, new careers, and a healthier overall well-being for millions of girls and young women across the country.

But with the institution of one of the Biden Administration’s executive orders, that’s about to change. Shortly after the President and the first female Vice President were sworn into office, one of their first orders of business was to sign an “Executive Order on Preventing and Combatting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Equality or Sexual Orientation.”

Sounds okay on the surface, doesn’t it? There’s nothing wrong with equality, inclusion and non-discrimination.

Or is there?

The problem is, this order stands to undo the years and years of progress that has been made in the way of opportunities for millions of young girls — like my daughters and yours — especially when it comes to sports and athletics.

According to the order, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports ... All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

In other words, any school that receives federal funding must allow biological boys who identify as girls on to girls’ sports teams or face administrative action. (Of course, the reverse would also be true, but, interestingly, when was the last time we saw a boy taking issue with being unequally pitted against a girl in an athletic competition?)

For this new presidential administration that has made it abundantly clear that science will now take center stage when addressing our nation’s problems, it seems like science has been tossed out the window.

Don’t we all know that girls and boys are ... well, different? Obviously, the physical differences between the two exist from birth, but it’s undeniable once puberty sets in, right around the time intramural sports and athletics also begin for most kids. The testosterone in boys really kicks into overdrive and the physiological chasm between the sexes only widens.

When it’s all said and done, the biological differences between boys and girls can’t be ignored:

Boys have larger skeletal structures, which provide a clear mechanical advantage over girls.

Boys have higher muscle mass and bone density, which allows for greater speed and acceleration.

Boys have larger hearts and higher oxygen-carrying capacity, which allows them to perform exercise at higher intensities (VO2max).*

There’s a reason we have “men’s” and “women’s” sports; to make competition fair and equitable. It wouldn’t make sense, for instance, to allow a male who naturally has longer legs and a larger bone structure to compete in hurdles (where stride length clearly matters) against a heat of women. What girl would want to run in that race?

And there’s a reason why, since 1972, we’ve seen such remarkable athletic achievements from women like Jackie Joyner, Serena Williams, Dara Torres, and Simone Biles, among many others. Not to mention the thousands of girls around the country who have landed college scholarships, awards, and careers because of their athletic achievements at their local high schools. Imagine how many of those records and accomplishments wouldn’t even exist if their bodies had been poised in competition against men?

According to Erin Blocker, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and instructor at ESU in the health and human performance department, it’s simply a matter of biology, nothing more, nothing less. Blocker, who has coached track and field at the collegiate level for over 16 years and teaches classes on exercise physiology and sports nutrition, has seen first hand what it can mean for a male who identifies as a girl to compete in a women’s event.

“... it meant this biological male athlete, who identified as a girl, won the 2019 Division II National Championship in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, while ‘her’ competitor, a biological girl — who would have otherwise won — finished 2nd.”

It just wasn’t fair.

Non-discrimination and inclusion are important and necessary. We would all agree. But we also need to use scientific facts ... and common sense ... when we approach the issue.

Title IX was created to open doors and remove barriers in sports for women and girls (not for boys) and its impact over the last 50 years cannot be underestimated.

Electing one woman into the White House for the first time while simultaneously throwing away all that’s been accomplished for thousands and thousands of other women with this executive order is certainly not a victory we should celebrate.

Do we need a new division in athletics or a different method of rankings for athletes? Perhaps. There have to be some solutions. But making our girls pay the price is not an option.

*The highest VO2max ever recorded for a male athlete is 96ml/kg/min. The highest VO2max ever recorded for a female athlete is 77ml/kg/min.

(15) comments

Ford Fan

The writer of this article is not "transphobic"! She is simply raising questions & concerns. Parents should be worried that the Federal Government is imposing a new mandate on schools. It really should be decided by individual State School Boards.

Use some common sense! Having a BIOLOGICAL male compete against biological females is really not fair. Science presents plenty of differences in The Sexes. The writer points out the most obvious: muscle mass & bone strength. Male's bodies have the advantage. So what if "he" is on hormone treatment to present as Female, that will not change "her" basic biology. That possibly could be influenced by advanced treatment.

Have compassion for those young ladies(born Female) who work very hard to achieve their athletic goals! Advocate for policy that reflects that. It seems that the writer is simply asking for that.

shanewindmeyer

As an Emporia State Alum, I expected more from the Emporia Gazette. This writer doesn't bother to check her transphobic harmful rhetoric and discriminatory characterizations at all. A quick google search (much less relevant knowledge on the subject matter) would show how trans athletes compete openly and without any concerns noted. In addition, the science is about chromosomes that make up the genetics of an individual, not "biological sex." There is so much wrong with what she says about her science. The Emporia Gazette should not allow Science to appear in this title. And quoting an ESU faculty member who does not even know or care to understand the current sports policy, research and practice. The leading collegiate sports organizations NCAA and NIRSA both have trans inclusive policies and highlight research to invalidate this unfounded editorial and irrational fears that endanger lives of trans youth. How about we diversify the staff at the Emporia Gazette with trans people as writers and part of the editorial board - before you continue to endanger their lives with biased, discriminatory social commentary. There is no science here. Just fear mongering and inaccurate depictions of who trans people are.

Avery

Get a better writer.

DrBUCKETS

This article has some BIG boomer energy and is frankly a bad look for the Gazette. Almost all of it based more on feelings than on research or scientific coverage. But I'm not surprised this "parent" values

winning in a high school sport over actual people and the integrity of the Gazette. There could have been room for valid discussion on trans people's classifications into sports at different ability levels, but all of that is going to be drowned out by people being (rightly) upset at the transphobic language used in the article. Put a little effort into doing some research before throwing like this junk on here.

As for what might be done, here's the policy of the National Women's Hockey League. I think it's a pretty reasonable route to go for PROFESSIONAL sports. This would probably be overkill for local high school competition, but a version of it could be implemented for State level competition if need be:

Eligibility Guidelines

Considering the most up-to-date medical and expert information available at the time of the implementation of this policy, participation is open to:

1. People designated female at birth, regardless of their gender identity.

1.1 The athlete may not take testosterone hormone therapy. Athletes transitioning to male who undergo hormone therapy will be ineligible to compete.

2. Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete under the following conditions:

2.1. The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.

2.2. The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum is within typical limits of women athletes.

2.3. The athlete's total testosterone level in serum must remain in the typical range of women athletes throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.

2.4. Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility in the league will be suspended for 12 months.

https://www.nwhl.zone/nwhl-transgender-policy

And to any younger trans people being discouraged by this: don't be. There will always be someone with a persecution complex that's ready to clutch their pearls at any hint of social progression.

Kyndal

‪Transphobia is already so rampant in Emporia, this article feigns the use of “science” to poorly back up transphobic and hateful opinions. The wording within this article, especially the quotation marks around “her” when referring to a trans woman, is disgusting. Transgender youth are at an all-time high risk for self harm and suicide and articles like this benefit nobody. As a student at EHS, I have witnessed firsthand how horrible life can be for transgender students at our school. This article will do nothing more than add fire to the flame that is transphobia within our community.

mslater

I'll say this again. "When you elevate victimhood as virtue, you will create a culture in which people are tripping over themselves to be oppressed."

This article isn't talking about post-op, on hormone therapy transgender people. This is specifically talking about a bunch of dudes who want to play from the women's tee.

HoundstoothHawkins

Ah yes, the only "real" transgender person is the one that has had surgery and is on hrt. Ok boomer.

Kyndal

Do you know of any actual examples of this happening? I have been searching for examples of this happening, but the only examples I have seen are people who genuinely identify as transgender. Nobody fakes being transgender just for sports, especially high school sports. No sports are worth the emotional and physical weight of being transgender. This is transphobia, nothing less.

Kansasforever

This originally got national headlines when 2 transgender females competed in Connecticut. They were not on hormone therapy and the state rules don’t require it. These two athletes easily won state championships and one of them set a record. Medical studies performed show that an advantage may last up to 2 years after starting hormone therapy. If these student athletes do commit to the hormone therapy I am fully on board with the competing.

FreeLunch

Hollowed Ground. Your post is one of the most ill-intentioned or ill-informed I’ve seen. Did you actually read the editorial?

Kansasforever

Guess he didn’t read Joe Biden’s memoirs.”sports is as natural to me as speaking is unnatural. And sports were my ticket to acceptance” hmm I guess president Biden would be one of those losers in employment?

Hollowed Ground

Contrary to the headline, there is no science in this letter at all. Only hype and bunk. Bigotry posing as Equality. First, I am sorry your daughters were so much influenced by sports and not academics and practical skills in middle school and high school. When they go applying for college and jobs, they will find all that sports time counts for nothing. Swim team captain on your resume gets you a cup of coffee as long as you also have $2, as coffee providers are much more interested in the $2 than swim teams. Those who had a heavy background in sports are often losers in employment. Their singular focus on winning renders them self centered, difficult to work with and of limited use on real teams. Those with gymnastics experience are the worst. Their 'hey-look-at-me-I'm-the-best' attitude shines through loud and clear in the workplace. The writer should be ashamed of herself! Also, the writer obviously understands nothing about human sexuality development in the fetus, in childhood and in adolescence. Neither does Erin Blocker, Ph.D. Awwww! It just wasn't fair!

mslater

You claim there is "no science in this letter at all. Only hype and bunk," Then a few sentences later you claim "Those who had a heavy background in sports are often losers in employment. Their singular focus on winning renders them self centered, difficult to work with and of limited use on real teams. Those with gymnastics experience are the worst. Their 'hey-look-at-me-I'm-the-best' attitude shines through loud and clear in the workplace."

You're the one lacking ANY science, and offer only hype, bunk, and bigotry. Do you have ANY scientific study or survey that comes to this conclusion, or is just your own bigotry showing? I'm willing to bet that they're not the ones who are difficult to work with and have a limited use on real teams.

The Army recently switched to a new fitness test that did away with separate standards for men and women, and now have one standard for all. "The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men." - source - https://taskandpurpose.com/news/army-leaders-women-acft/

I can't imagine ANY parent of a female athlete being ok with this decision, mainly because it's incredibly stupid and sexist against women.

I'll end with this: "When you elevate victimhood as virtue, you will create a culture in which people are tripping over themselves to be oppressed." I think this is where a lot of this idiocy comes from.

HoundstoothHawkins

"trans exclusion is good because it avoids being sexist against women!" you heard it here first, boomers. lol, i feel bad for your kids.

KOACH52

With all respect to this writer. I am not sure what experience you draw on that finds sport as a negative influence and seemingly waste of time. With 45 years in education..I would argue just the opposite. Our students involved activities of all kinds are the best and brightest of them all. Many of them with college scholarships of the academic nature. They also learn ....yes, to compete. They learn responsibility, teamwork, accountability. They learn to budget their time and they are active in school and community service while taking college classes and working jobs on the side. They learn that the more they put into something the better the rewards. They learn that they have a responsibility to their team and to their school to model good behavior. Many of our student/ athletes help in elementary classrooms and mentor younger students. Your “sports time counts for nothing” sounds like it would come from someone that has never experienced....winning that big game or winning a competition that you probably shouldn’t have perhaps because you put in more effort than your opponent. If you can document how they are often losers in employment...I would like to see it. A quick google search of High School sport and how it relates to academic success and employment will yield you facts not opinion. Finally, I would say that as far as offering gender equity.....sports already do that. If they want to “compete” there is already sports programs that they are welcome to compete in. I agree with most of the comments of Mr Slater and I see know reason for Ashley Walker to be ashamed of her opinion. One state had 3 state champions in track that were transgender ......biological males running in girls track. In the 100m race a transgender student was state champion narrowly beating the second place runner also a transgender. In Texas there was a state Champion in girls “Wrestling” that was transgender. I have no bias against them but I do not feel they belong in female sports at the high school level. My opinion.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.