To most of the world, swimming is a sport that gains little publicity, little interest, and only a vague idea of what it actually entails. For competitive swimmers such as myself, swimming dominates everyday life. I have been swimming for as long as I can remember, and in my time as an NCAA athlete, I set fourteen school records and won many conference awards and recognitions. I understand firsthand the dedication that the sport of swimming expects us to maintain, and the constant drive to push our bodies to their limit in order to succeed.
But there is a limit. There is a reason men and women don’t compete one-on-one in the pool. The physicality of a man provides him with a definite, testosterone-induced advantage. The danger of allowing openly trans athletes to compete in swim meets according to their preferred gender discredits years of biologically sound testing among swimmers to protect against unfair advantages.
However, the NCAA has ignored that history completely by allowing a male swimmer from Penn State under the name Lia Thomas to compete in the 2022 Women’s NCAA Championships.
Winning the 500-yard freestyle and beating out three current Olympians for the top of the podium, Thomas swam the twenty laps in a time of 4:33.24, just 9.18 seconds shy of the NCAA record set by world-renowned swimmer and 3-time Olympian Katie Ledecky. While places 2 through 4 (Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan, and Brooke Forde) have all since attempted to voice support for Thomas’ antics, the fact remains that the majority of athletes are uncomfortable with the lack of adherence to a long-standing policy that serves to prevent this usurpation from occurring.
“It’s definitely awkward because ‘Lia’ still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,” one anonymous swimmer from the Penn State team bravely said in an interview. “But we were basically told… that we have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our locker room.”
The coaches have also forbidden their swimmers from speaking to the press on this issue. In an already vulnerable sport, women are being forced into silent submission while their privacy is openly violated in the women’s locker room. This situation ought to be prevented, one would think, by something like Title IX, a law written in the 1960s to protect against female discrimination in school sports.
This new standard set by Thomas poses endless dilemmas for the future. First, his involvement will act as a deterrent for any up-and-coming female swimmers, who see this recognition as a preventative to their own successes. What is the point of competing in the sport if your opponent in the neighboring lane has a distinct chemical advantage?
Second, there are countless stories of “de-transitioners,” people who have realized that their gender identity was more of a coping strategy for trauma than anything else and have since returned to their biological sex. In his book When Harry Became Sally, author Ryan Anderson points out the long-lasting regret of transitions with firsthand accounts, stating that “they felt they were too young to be making such life-altering decisions.”
So how then will this apply to Thomas if he decides later in life to “de-transition” and resume identifying as male? Will his female records be removed and falsified? After all, he hasn’t undergone surgery to alter his physiology. And what is to stop other men from following in his footsteps, “identifying” as women but refusing hormone treatments or surgery for, say, health reasons? Will they too be allowed to compete as women, despite having that insurmountable chemical edge? And what will become of those who are confused enough to define themselves as “non-binary”? Will they complain that the entire sport of swimming is nothing more than an unfair gender construct and must be done away with entirely?
These questions and more pose a dark and menacing future for the sport of swimming and, unfortunately, the female athletes who have fallen victim to these incoming dangers have absolutely no say in the matter.
Despite the attempts to blend transgenderism and feminism under one political umbrella, the fact of the matter remains that their base arguments stand in stark opposition to one another. Transgenderism relies heavily on self-definition, from appearance to identity to biology. True feminism declares there is an inherent disadvantage placed upon women from birth, and that no type of surgery allows a man to understand the historical struggles faced by women today.
At the very least, trans advocates must cease pretending to care about women, especially in sports. If this controversy proves one thing, it is that transgenderism holds nothing but contempt and hatred for the future of female athletes everywhere.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.