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Texas Male Swimmer Takes Women’s Trophy from Other Athletes; Legislature Must Protect Fairness in College Sports

Last week the inevitable happened when biological male swimmer Lia Thomas took first place in the NCAA Division I 500-meter swimming national championship. Despite months of protest and concerns raised from Thomas’s teammates and other female swimmers, Thomas has been able to swim, undress, and shower alongside female athletes despite being a biological male.

Last year, Texas successfully passed HB 25 to protects girls’ sports in high school and middle school by requiring athletes to compete on the team that matches the sex on their birth certificate. However, Thomas, formerly competed as a male swimmer in high school in the Austin area, proves that there is a need for legislation in Texas to protect college sports as well.

Many Texans are speaking out about how Thomas’ unfair competition has affected them personally. The first Texans to speak out were a group of over 20 women who were alumni of Texas universities and competed in swimming and other sports. These Texas female athletes sent a letter opposing Thomas swimming with women before the NCAA Championships to Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte, executive senior associate athletic Chris Plonsky, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Directors. The woman who led the effort to author the letter was Katy Arris-Wilson who was a part of the University of Texas Longhorns’ national title winning teams in 1990 and 1991. These women wrote:

“While we believe in the mission of the NCAA – to cultivate an environment that emphasizes academics, fairness and well-being across college sports – we feel that the NCAA has failed a large segment of its constituency with regards to fairness when making its most recent decision to allow transgender women to compete against biological females at the upcoming 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. [T]he NCAA has leaned heavily on inclusion at the expense of fairness to the benefit of one person over approximate 300 biological females who will be competing at the upcoming NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.”

See full letter here.

The NCAA ignored this letter and allowed Thomas to compete. As a result, a current University of Texas swimmer was denied her rightful 2nd place in the 500-meter freestyle competition. Erica Sullivan placed 3rd in her swim against Thomas and a picture of her standing on the 3rd place podium with the other female swimmers has gone viral.
Allowing biological males to compete in female sports directly and negatively impacts Texas women athletes. No longer will leftist politicians be able to deny that this is happening.

Thomas’s denial of victory to female college athletes has sparked outrage and criticism on social media. Many Texans are speaking out on this issue as well. While Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has voiced continued concern to Thomas swimming on the women’s team, Texas’s own Olympic swimming champion Ricky Berens tweeted, “Sad day for sport of swimming. Women’s athletics and Title IX has come too far.”

Texas elected officials spoke out against Thomas as well. Attorney General Paxton had his tweet opposing Thomas removed from Twitter.

Texas legislators filed bills during the 2021 session to preserve fairness in sports on the college, as well as high school levels. During public testimony on these bills, LGBT groups vehemently insisted that the bill addressed a problem that did not exist, and no cases existed of Texas women athletes being displaced by men on the podium. The same groups also asserted that no Texas woman athlete had ever been cheated out of opportunities to receive college athletic scholarships.

Both contentions ignored examples such as CeCe Telfer, a biological male who dominated in the 400-meter hurdles in Texas during the 2019 NCAA Texas Relays Championships, beating out several biological females. Lia Thomas is only further (and more publicized) proof of this problem. No longer will leftist politicians and groups be able to deny that women are being displaced.

Texans agree that Lia Thomas’s 1st place finish and a national championship award, as a biological male, against female college swimmers is unfair and contradicts the purpose of Title IX to create an opportunity for women to compete on a fair playing field with an equal opportunity for medals and scholarships.

Last week’s injustice should motivate the Texas Legislature to pass legislation to protect women in college sports. Texas Values is ready to lead the way on these efforts to continue the fight to Save Women’s Sports.

Will you join us?

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